You can never have too many pasta recipes right? At least that’s what I believe. I could happily eat pasta every day. Yes, I love my carbs. The other thing I really really love, cheese! I’ve heard people say they don’t even keep cheese in the house and they only eat it when they splurge and I’m thinking, uhhh, your totally joking right? How is that humanly possible :). I’ll never give up cheese. It goes on everything and basically it just keeps me happy. Speaking of cheese, this has nothing to do with this recipe but have you ever tried fresh squeaky cheese? The kind that really squeaks while you eat it? That stuff is the best but it can be hard to come by if you don’t live near a place that makes it because once it travels it’s refrigerated (normally if it’s fresh it can be left out like 3 days I think) so if you buy it at the grocery store it’s cold and no longer squeaky. So if you find it fresh one day, grab it up because it’s delicious.
The cheeses in this recipe however are the basics that you should have no trouble finding. To me they are the Italian classics (I’d probably add Romano onto that list too, which you could actually swap out about 1/2 cup of the Mozzarella for in this recipe). They go perfectly with pasta and spinach. This recipe is quite similar to the Manicotti I have posted, which has always been one of my families favorites, so if you’ve tried that this recipe, this will seem rather familiar to you. Enjoy!
Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells
Yield: 10 Servings
- 30 jumbo pasta shells , cooked according to directions listed on package
- 15 oz . fresh spinach , steamed just until wilted, squeezed dry with paper towels and chopped*
- 15 oz . Ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
- 1 clove garlic , finely minced
- 3 cups (12 oz) mozzarella cheese, finely shredded, divided
- 1 cup (3.5 oz) Parmesan cheese, finely shredded
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste
- 3 cups marinara sauce , homemade or store-bought (I used this recipe)
- red pepper flakes , optional
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl, using a fork, blend together Ricotta cheese and egg. Stir in basil, thyme and garlic. Add 2 cups mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and toss mixture to combine. Mix in prepared spinach. Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
Spread 1/3 cup pasta sauce into an even layer along bottom of a 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Divide cheese mixture among cooked pasta shells, stuffing each shell full with about 2 Tbsp cheese mixture. Align shells in baking dish side by side, with the opening of shells facing upright. Stir red pepper flakes to taste into marinara sauce if desired. Cover shells evenly with remaining marinara sauce then sprinkle tops evenly with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven 30 minutes. Serve warm.
*If you don't want to steam fresh spinach, you could also use frozen and thawed spinach, just dry it well by squeezing dry with several layers of paper towels.
Recipe Source: Cooking Classy