I had the idea to make something like toasted ravioli only the filling would be different, it would be more hearty. After some trial and error, I came up with these Italian dippers.
These are actually deep fried shell pasta filled with sausage, onions, mozzarella and spices. The shells overlap one another to keep the filling from coming out. Each piece is quite a bit more than the regular ravioli and it takes only a few to satisfy.
Another neat thing is that the variations of fillings you can try for these are endless. This recipe makes about 12-15 toasted shells.
30 pasta shells
1/2 sprig of fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
2 basil leaves, chopped
1/2 lb of spicy Italian sausage
9 slices of pepperoni (about 1-1 1/2 inch diameter size) quartered
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 cup grated mozzarella
Italian bread crumbs
2 egg whites
oil for frying
1 jar of marinara or spaghetti sauce for dipping
Fill a saucepan with 1 tbs of oil and place over medium heat. Then add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the sausage, breaking up meat into small pieces. Stir and cook sausage for about 3-5 minutes, until all areas are brown.. Once the meat is cooked, add the pepperoni pieces and cook until pieces release their oil and become glossy. Stir in rosemary and basil and let cook for another minute. Remove from heat and place sausage mixture in a heat proof bowl to cool.
Once mixture has cooled, mix in the grated cheese until evenly distributed. Set aside.
Then cook your shell pasta according to manufacturers instructions. After cooking and draining, rinse shells with cold water until pasta pieces are cool to the touch.
Fill one pasta shell with about 2-3 tablespoons of meat mixture. Then take another shell and overlap the other shell, covering the opening of filling. Continue this process until all the filling is used up., placing formed shells on a platter.
Place 1 cup of bread crumbs on a plate and spread out evenly. In a medium size bowl, lightly beat the egg whites. Then preheat your deep fryer to 350 degrees.
Dip each filled shell into egg whites and allow excess to drip off. Then roll in crumbs and set aside.
Repeat process until all formed shells are coated. Place 3 shells at a time in the fryer basket (we have a fryer with 2 rectangular baskets) and cook in hot oil for about 3 minutes. Remove and place on paper towels to drain.
Serve toasted shells with a bowl of marinara for dipping. Enjoy!