I have a weakness for cheese. Thankfully, this weakness is shared by my roommate. In fact, she’s a bit of a cheese fiend. I read the other day that cheese naturally contains a bit of morphine. So it’s addictive and you know what? Awesome. For it. Bring on the cheese. All of it. Now. No, really. Gimme.
Stuffed shells are kind of a tradition in my family. My uncle’s shells are legendary– every year my cousin requested them for her birthday. Those, however, are not the shells in this recipe. These are healthy- with greens and everything. See? (sweet little lies we tell ourselves). I made these for a dinner with a good friend who is mostly vegetarian and really this is the only version of stuffed shells I’d eat in the summertime. They’re surprisingly light and really filling in all the right ways and make great left overs. I might have eaten a few for breakfast this morning.
Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells
- 1 package (10oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed drained
- 1 package jumbo shells (I only used about half of them and just stuffed the shells really full.)
- 15 oz. part skim ricotta
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1/4 t. oregano
- 1/4 t. onion powder
- 1/8 t. fresh grated nutmeg
- salt and fresh ground pepper
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 c. shredded Mozzarella cheese
- 1c. fresh grated Parmesan and/or Romano cheese
Defrost and drain the frozen spinach. Set a large pot of water to boil and cook the shells according to the package. I only used half the shells, so about 18-20 of them, and just stuffed them really full. This way a meal is about 3 shells and there is enough for leftovers, but not so many that I’d get bored or they go bad. Drain the pasta and set aside. This allows the pasta to cool to a handling temperature
In a large bowl, combine spinach, ricotta, 3/4 c. Parmesan, mozzarella, egg, and all the spices and herbs. Make sure the spinach is equally distributed through the cheese mixture as it has a tendency to clump.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Take a 9×13 baking dish and lubricate with a little olive oil. Spread about ½ c. of your tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish. Fill the shells with the spinach mixture and arrange on top of the sauce. Don’t skimp on the filling! Spoon the remaining sauce over the shells and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and a little mozzarella.
If you want to serve these later, the shells can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before cooking. Otherwise, bake covered for 20 minutes. Remove foil and cook until the shells are heated and the sauce is bubbling slightly, another 10 or 20 minutes.
Serve with some salad and a crisp wine and pretend it’s not 88 degrees with 70% humidity out.