Peggy Lampman's Monday dinnerFeed: Stuffed shells with spinach and ricotta
Since ancient times, pasta dough has been cut into various shapes, covered with a variety of fillings and baked. It's popularity survived the centuries for good reason. Not only is stuffed pasta delicious, it's a great make-ahead dish. I made these stuffed shells 24 hours in advance and baked them prior to serving. Fillings can also handily utilize any stray leftovers you may have. The ricotta, cheese and egg "glues" my odds and ends tidily up, the pasta shells encasing them into savory bundles of surprise.
Cook extra shells as some of them inevitably fall apart when boiling. Shells should be almost tender and slightly firm--keep in mind they will continue to cook when baking in the oven. A simple green salad tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette and garlic bread is all you need to deliciously complete the meal.
Yield: 14 stuffed shells Cost: apx. $11.50 Active Time: 35 minutes Bake Time: 25 minutes
14 jumbo pasta shells (cook more as some will tear when boiled) 1Â large egg â€¨ 1Â teaspoon minced garlic 2 cups (15 ounces)Â ricotta cheese 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil 3/4Â (packed) cupÂ grated Parmesan cheese 1Â (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry orâ€¨5 ounces baby spinach, blanched and squeezed dry 1 pinch nutmeg, optional Cooking oil spray 1Â cup your favorite bottled or freshly made pasta sauceâ€¨ 1/2 (packed) cup grated mozzarella
1. Preheat oven to 350Â°. 2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil pasta shells according to package instructions. 3. Beat egg and stir in garlic, ricotta, basil, parmesan, prepared spinach and nutmeg, if desired. Combine well and season with several grinds of freshly ground black pepper. 4. Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons filling into each pasta shell. 5. Spread 1/2 cup pasta sauce over bottom of a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange stuffed shells in prepared dish; spoon a bit of pasta sauce over each shell. Top with mozzarella.Lightly tent with foil (if it is touching the cheese, spray foil with cooking oil spray) and bake at 350Â° for 20 minutes. 6. Remove foil and continue baking an additional 7 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.