Stuffed Crab Shells

These turned out super yummy but let me tell you...they take a lot of work to make, especially when you have a 2 month old who is awake while you're trying to make them.

Stuffed Crab Shells

12 oz large pasta shells (you will use around 20)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb lump crab meat - to save money I just used the imitation crab meat and cut it up smaller
1/4 c fresh minced parsley
3 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded - Gruyere cheese is not in our budget - it's $20 for 1 lb! so I substituted shredded swiss cheese instead

Bechamel Ingredients:
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
5 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 c milk
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 oz Gruyere cheese - again I used swiss cheese instead

Cook the pasta to just under al dente.  You will have more pasta shells than you need but sometimes they break so that is okay.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the pepper, celery, and onions and saute until softened but not brown, about 10-15 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute another 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.

For the Bechamel: In a sauce pot over medium-low heat, warm the milk just until it comes to a very gentle simmer.  In a separate sauce pot over medium-low heat, melt the butter and then whisk in the flour.  Cook the butter/flour mixture(roux) for about 3 minutes, whisking the entire time.  Gradually whisk the hot milk into the roux, then add salt and pepper.  Turn the heat up and bring mixture to a boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Turn heat off and whisk in the swiss cheese.

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a casserole dish.  In a large bowl, combine the cooked vegetables, crab, parsley, 1 cup of Bechamel, and 1/4 tsp salt.  Stuff the crab mixture into the shells and arrange in the casserole dish.  Pour the remaining Bechamel on top of the shells.  Bake for 20 minutes, then sprinkle the remaining swiss cheese on top and bake for another 10 minutes.

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