Hands-on Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
- 20 jumbo pasta shells (about half a 12 oz box)
- 1 24 oz jar marinara sauce
- 2 15 oz containers ricotta
- 2 c baby spinach, chopped
- ½ c grated Parmesan
- Salt and pepper
- 1 c shredded mozzarella
- Set an oven rack to highest position and heat oven to 400ºF. Cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain and run under cold water until cool.
- Spread the marinara sauce in the bottom of a large broilerproof baking dish.
- In a bowl, combine the ricotta, spinach, Parmesan, ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Spoon the mixture into the shells and place them on top of the sauce. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and bake until the shells are heated through, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Increase heat to broil. Broil the shells until the cheese begins to brown, 2 to 5 minutes.
I was skeptical of this recipe when I came across it in Real Simple. I’ve always wanted to try stuffed shells but it seemed like a lot of work. Cooking the shells and then working with them to stuff each one individually. It wasn’t as challenging as I thought though.
I was also concerned that it would be a rich and heavy dish with all of the pasta and cheese. Not the case. It had a very soft and like taste. It wasn’t rich at all. It is very good although I did get some feedback from my peanut gallery with it being sans meat.
I made it again the other day and added about a pound of frozen, cooked ground beef to the sauce. Warmed them on the stove and then proceeded as the recipe said. It is very much like lasagna with the meat added. Perhaps I’ll change it up again the next time with some Italian sausage.
A couple other things about the recipe instructions. The original recipe did call for grated mozzarella. I made the Sausage and Broccoli Calzones, I knew I had this recipe coming up so I grated enough mozzarella for both. But you know about my trials with grating mozzarella. So I of course just used bagged shredded mozzarella when I made it again and it turned out just the same. I’m wondering though about actual grated mozzarella now that a couple recipes have called for it. Am I taking grated too literally? Is there such a thing you can just buy? Or can you successfully grate a ball of mozzarella at home?
I’ll also note I’m a nervous broiler. I worry about the pans I use and how close I place them to the broiler. I have yet to actually place the rack on the highest position. I’ll move it up maybe one from it’s normal position but that’s it. I supposed I should educate myself on broiling so that I can stop being so hesitant about it. Tips and suggestions are welcome!
In closing, I recommend cheese bread and salad as side dishes. Also, this dish does reheat pretty darn well in the microwave.
When I was a kid, stuffed shells were my least favorite food. How weird is that? I HATED them. Something about the ricotta, I think. But these sounds amazing…