You can put pretty much anything in the filling. Fresh herbs are even better than the dried herbs I have included in the below recipe- use a big handful of any fresh herbs you have on hand and chop finely. Some other variations that come to mind would be to use pesto instead of dried herbs, or omit the spinach and use other finely chopped veggies (some chopped roasted tomatoes would be really good I bet). I like to use spinach, however, because I don't really like it so I never use it in anything else. Somehow spinach is delicious and perfect in the stuffed shells. If I have mozzarella cheese, I'll also grate some into the filling. So, without further ado, here is the recipe. Buon appetito!
P.S. Tyler got home from work late on Thursday when we had this for dinner so we ended up eating dinner while watching CSI. Is that weird?
SPINACH AND RICOTTA STUFFED SHELLS
To double this recipe to serve a crowd, cook the same amount of pasta but double the filling and sauce.
- 350 g box dried jumbo shells
- 475 g tub ricotta cheese
- 300 g box chopped frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
- 1/2 grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 to 3/4 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- dash of nutmeg (I would probably omit if not using spinach)
- drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups tomato sauce
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F with rack in middle. Cook pasta in boiling, well salted water for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Mix all other ingredients except for tomato sauce. Cover bottom of a baking dish (I use a 10.5" x 7" dish) with 1 cup of tomato sauce.
Stuff pasta with about 1 heaping tbsp of filling* and place in baking dish. Continue stuffing shells until all filling is used up**. The filling will do about 25 shells. Any stuffed shells that don't fit in your baking dish can be frozen- line a baking sheet with plastic wrap, freeze shells until solid, store in a Ziploc bag. To cook follow same method as follows, but bake for longer.
Cover shells with remaining tomato sauce, making sure that everything is well covered or else the pasta will dry out in the oven and be crunchy (not what we're going for here). Cover dish with foil, bake 25 minutes. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.
*I find it easiest to use my (well washed) hands to stuff the shells.
**There will be leftover cooked pasta. I have these for lunch the next day with tomato sauce.