Thursday, January 19, 2012

Spinach Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells - Comfort Food!

This has been a favorite family recipe for years.  The savory sauce is light, tangy and just zings when paired with the satisfying ricotta cheese spinach filling of the pasta.  It was a cold and snowy today – just the right night for this comforting yummy dish!

Spinach Cheese Stuffed Shells

You will need a 12 oz. box of jumbo pasta shells – cook half of them according to the package directions.  A good time to do this would be while sauce is simmering and you are mixing up the spinach cheese filling.

Ingredients for the Sauce:
1 pound ground beef (optional)
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves put through a press or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 (15 oz.) can of tomato sauce
1 (15 oz.) can chopped tomatoes
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon oregano

Brown the ground beef and onion or medium low heat and drain the oil.  (This would be a good time to microwave the spinach for the filling – directions are below)  If using fresh garlic add it to beef and cook for 30 seconds before adding the rest of the ingredients.  (If not using ground beef, saut√© fresh garlic in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 30 seconds and then add the rest of the ingredients) Simmer about 10 minutes or so while you combine the ingredients for the cheese spinach filling and cook the jumbo pasta shells

Ingredients for Spinach Filling
1 pound (16 oz.) ricotta cheese (I use part skim)
1 (10 oz.) package frozen spinach
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)

Cook spinach in microwave according to the package directions.  Squeeze/drain the excess water out of the spinach and mix it with the rest of the ingredients.

Directions for constructing this dish:

Stuff each shell with a heaping tablespoon of the filling.

  Arrange the shells in a baking dish.  Spoon the sauce over the stuffed shells.  

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.


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