stuffed shells

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Stuffed shells are a great winter meal to make for a crowd: you can easily prepare them ahead of time (they are MASTER freezers), they warm you right up, and they are relatively cost effective.

While we didn’t have a crowd last night, CJ had abstained from lunch so he ate an equivalent to four human portions.

One entire tray of stuffed shells.

I think he liked it?

Here’s what you’ll need:

– 1 package of jumbo shells (if you can get to an Italian grocery store and get these fresh, you will be rewarded ten fold)

– 1 pound of ricotta

– 1 pound of chopped spinach

– 1 pound of mozzarella (shredded)

– 2/3 cup of shredded parmesan

– 2 eggs

– 1 can diced tomatoes

– 1 small can of tomato paste

– 2 chopped cloves of garlic

Here’s what you’ll do:

1. Preheat your oven to 350. In a large saucepan, saute your garlic over medium heat. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and one cup of water. Let simmer for 20 minutes.

2. As the sauce is setting, boil a large pot of water with salt. When that is ready, add the spinach.

3. When the spinach is cooked (it turns bright green), get a slotted spoon to remove the spinach and try to save the water. I could not- my slotted spoon wasn’t participating- so I had to boil a fresh pot of water. When that boils up, throw your pasta in. I put the entire package of stuffed shells in for one man’s dinner, mostly because he was starving and I anticipated some shells breaking (they did).

4. Cook your pasta AL DENTE. Just under AL DENTE, even. You want it to bake up real good in the oven.

5. As your sauce is continuing to melt on down and your pasta is cooling, combine the ricotta (we got fresh ricotta and sweet baby Jesus was that incredible), mozzarella, parmesan, two eggs, and chopped spinach. I added salt and pepper, then took a fork and knife to further chop the spinach and combine the flavors. That step is optional, but I think it made a difference.

shells

6. Rinse your shells in cold water. Get a baking pan (or a cookie sheet), prep with a few pats of butter and a ladle of sauce. Smear that out.

7. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture into each shell and lay down in a nice little row, seam side down.

8. Smother all of your shells with sauce, then put in the oven uncovered for 30 minutes.

You can also try this with a meat sauce, with sausage, anything really! There is a pound of spinach in there, so I’m proud I got some veggies into my husband.

Also he wanted me to show you what I put out while I was cooking.

I hate, hate, hate when people ask me if dinner is ready while I am cooking. It makes me really strangely anxious and then I rush the food. I usually put out a little something to tide them (Christopher) over, even if it’s just a weeknight dinner. Last night, I threw together what we had in the fridge (carrots and celery from last night’s meat sauce) and I made a honey mustard vinaigrette with oregano as a dip.

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And no one asked me to speed up my shellies. Win/win.

Happy Thursday!

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