Monday, November 21, 2011

Food: Garlic, Spinach, and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

This recipe came from necessity.  We were moving in less than two weeks, and I had to raid the pantry to see what I had on hand.  We were also trying to eat everything we could in our pantry so we wouldn't have to move things like half-full boxes of pasta to our new place.  What started as an improvisation turned into deliciousness.

The ingredients on hand:
About 6 oz fresh spinach
16 oz part skim ricotta cheese
12 oz jumbo shells
lots of garlic (we always have garlic in the house)
jarred marinara sauce (Barilla to be exact)
pantry staples like eggs, seasoned salt, mozarella, and parmesan.

Here's what I did.

First, I sauteed the spinach with the garlic in a pan with a TINY bit of olive oil (put it on a paper towel and wiped the inside of the pan with it. Once the spinach was adequately limp, I chopped it roughly (probably should have done that first - it was hot!) and put it all into a bowl.

Then I added about a quarter cup of parmesan and mozarella and stirred it around, then the ricotta, and then one beaten egg. I wound up with this:

Then I boiled the shells for 10 of the recommended 14 minutes. They'll absorb moisture from the cheese and the sauce while they bake in the oven, and I don't like mushy pasta. Plus, having the shells very slightly undercooked makes them easier to work with for me because they don't rip as easily.

While the shells were boiling, I coated a 9x13" pan with just enough jarred marinara sauce to cover the bottom.  This will keep the shells from sticking.

After that, I loaded up the shells with the delicious ricotta mixture that I had tasted (it was good!).  Sadly, I ran out of cheese before I ran out of shells, but the shells were a fine left-over lunch coated with marinara sauce.

After that, I coated the loaded shells with the rest of the jar of marinara sauce, and baked at 350F for about a half an hour.

Since it was a raid-the-pantry experience, there was no mozzarella cheese to be put on top, but it was still delicious.

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