21 November 2010

Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Pasta Shells with Smoky Marinara Sauce

Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells with Smoky Marinara
In true More Than Burnt Toast form I am doing all that I can to support Meatless Mondays. What better way to show my support than with a vegetarian pasta favourite from my kitchen to yours. Nothing fancy... nothing gourmet... just every day cooking.

You know the kind of meal that can be prepared well ahead of time and perhaps even in stages. Make the marinara sauce one day and freeze it as I did and your weekday meal will be on the table in no time. The holidays are looming and we need simple and classic dishes to get us through stress free! A slight twist with your own homemade pesto and you have made this dish all your own.

Since it seems I am blogging less frequently, but still long  to support my friends this is my contribution for this weeks Presto Pasta Nights the baby of Ruth of Once Upon a Feast which is being hosted this week by Denise of Oh Taste N See.

Before we get to the recipe let me show you todays gift from President's Choice and Hill and Knowlton. You can read all about getting into the holiday spirit in my last post with the help of this gift that keeps on giving.

Wouldn't these be delicious incorporated into your favourite peanut butter cookie or bar. They could also easily replace chocolate chips in your favourite chocolate chip cookie to infuse that peanut butter flavour we all love. They also come in a rich fudge or butterscotch flavours. Thanks President's Choice!!!!!

**Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Pasta Shells with Smoky Marinara Sauce**

1 package (250 g) jumbo pasta shells (about 2 dozen shells)
1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
1 container (475 g) ricotta cheese
1 package (300 g) frozen spinach, thawed and finely chopped
1 cup (225 mL) grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
2 - 3 (15 - 30mL) tablespoons pesto
¼ teaspoon (1 mL) grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon (2 mL) kosher salt
1 recipe Smoky Marinara Sauce, recipe below

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook al dente (slightly firm) according to manufacturers directions. Drain and toss with oil. Set aside.

Place ricotta, spinach, ¾ cup Parmesan, egg, pesto, lemon zest and salt in a bowl. Mix thorughly.
Spread 2 cups of Smoky Marinara tomato sauce over bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Fill each shell with ricotta mixture and arrange on top of  sauce. Place dollops of remaining tomato sauce on top of pasta shells. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Cover tightly with foil.

Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake another 5 minutes until cheese is golden.

**Smoky Marinara Sauce**

Look for fire-roasted tomatoes in the organic section or with the canned tomatoes in your supermarket.

1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup (59 mL) chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons (30 mL) chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons (30 mL) chopped fresh or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons (10 mL) balsamic vinegar
1/8(0.5 mL) teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon (o.5 mL)pepper
1 (28-ounce/900 g)) can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
1 (28-ounce/900 g) can crushed tomatoes, undrained

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, basil, parsley, and oregano; sauté 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in vinegar and remaining ingredients. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. Your sauce is decadent! ;) You know a similar type of pasta is a Christmas dish in Catalonia?

  2. I like to serve vegetarian recipes at least once a week. I've got the ingredients to make this. If only I had more time to cook, but it's in my queue. I like the idea of using fire-roasted tomatoes. It must add a whole new depth of flavor. Nice!

  3. Love this recipe, I hardly ever see large pasta shells like these, I am going to find these soon to add to my stress free cooking! :) And I live the flavor of fire roasted tomatoes.. the sauce sounds yummy!!

  4. I am totally addicted to those mini chocolate peanut butter cups. I get mine at trader joes. I just wish they didn't melt/spread as much in baked goods

  5. A favorite recipe of mine and my personal chef clients. I love the addition of the smokey sauce.

  6. We had stuffed shells Friday, I doubt they are as good as these sound.

    Peace, Love and Chocolate

  7. I love stuffed shells and yours look seriously fantastic!

  8. I really like the flavor of fire roasted tomatoes...so the marinate sounds great.

  9. I'm a huge Meatless any day fan and I love what you're doing to spread the word about how delicious meatless meals can be! Pasta is always a surefire way to go, especially stuffed pastas. All that ricotta goodness...who needs the meat?

  10. Delicious looking and sounding! I am happy to have your recipe for the smoky marinara sauce and will be even happier to have it in my freezer!


  11. I have never made stuffed shells but I LOVE them! These look super and that plate is gorgeous!

  12. What a lovely recipe! The tomatoes must add a depth of flavor not found in other versions of the dish. I have never had bad luck with one of your recipes. I'll try this as soon as I can. I hope you had a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

  13. Fire roasted tomatoes has me interested. Haven't ever seen them. I will look. Spanish paprika would work, too... but I love smoky flavours and will definitely seek these out.

  14. Val, first of all, I love the plate. Anything cobalt blue is me and I have the same plate.

    When I fist started cooking, this was one of the first things I made..simple, but homey. I must try the smoked sauce.

  15. One of my favorite baked pasta dishes! Thanks for sharing your smokey version with Presto Pasta Nights.

  16. First time visitor to your blog-I am going to add you to my favs. I am not sure how I found it. I grew up in the Okanagan (I miss it alot)now I live in Oklahoma. I am going to try the marinara sauce, I have the shells already made but wasn't sure what kind of sauce to make.


  17. This looks wonderful, Val. I'm going to look for those tomatoes. I'd really like to surprise my family with this next weekend. We'll be all turkeyed out by then!

  18. Your pasta dishes always make me salivate! Great recipe as always

  19. The smoky sauce sounds absolutely HEAVENLY, Val!! I just love those fire-roasted tomatoes. They're the best!! :-)

  20. These jumbo shells are filling...greeat way to serve up a vegetarian dish.

  21. what a terrific stuffing, but even better than that, what an excellent sauce. this is a real treat, val!

  22. Lovely photograph. Thanks for sending it to PPN.

  23. I love stuffed shells specially with ricotta and spinach, my favorite one...SO yummie :-)

  24. Val, I'm on the same page as you with going meatless at least once a week. This is a perfect recipe for that philosophy!

    I hope that you have a most wonderful Thanksgiving!


  25. I just made this tonight & OMG...this was heavenly! I loved the addition of the lemon zest to the ricotta feeling...it was subtle, but incredible! This is going to become a staple around these parts for sure!!!

  26. Between the combo of tomatoes blended with the balsamic...it's surely a marinara sauce to remember.
    This pasta dish is certainly one I'd put on my table any day of the week.

    Val...I love the contrasting color of the stuffed shells on the cobalt plate...stunning ;o)

    Have a great day,

  27. Absolutely my type of meal, I adore ricotta and spinachs!! lovely Valli! x gloria

  28. this looks very good.. i really love meals like this one. thanks for sharing this.

  29. Love it - what a great combo!

  30. Thank you for the warm holiday wishes! Have a great thanksgiving!

  31. I am a self-confessed tomato addict, so this recipe calls to my innermost cravings! Looks delicious and cannot wait to try it in my own kitchen! Warm greetings from a very hot and sunny South Africa!

  32. So many good recipes, so little time. But, I've got to try this one, it sounds wonderful.

  33. This looks like the kind of pasta dish I would love. And I love things that I can make in stages - perhaps make the ricotta one day, marinara sauce the next, then assemble and have ready to just pop in the oven after work on the last day - I often make things like manicotti in this way. It means that I can make everything from scratch but still have a convenient mid-week meal. Thanks for sharing this one, which I will definitely be trying.
    Sue :-)

  34. Val, sounds like a meal my son would devour.


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