4 November 2007

Spinach & Ricotta-Stuffed Shells

Today is Sunday and usually a day to try and get a few extra moments of sleep. The clocks have been turned back so.... theoretically.... I was actually able to get up an hour later. All is well in theory. Since I was up already I decided to start my Sunday cooking spree. Every second Sunday, or so, I spend the day preparing dishes that can be frozen or that will keep in the refrigerator for several days so that I can have healthy meals during the work week. After a day of work I don't always feel like preparing a meal. The Marinara Sauce makes enough for several meals, so, it is best kept in the freezer. Long stints in the freezer can dull the flavour of the tomatoes. After it is thawed add 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest or 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar to perk up the flavour.

I love these stuffed shells for their versatility and am submitting them for Presto Pasta Nights over at Ruth's site Once Upon a Feast . She always has a line-up of delicious pasta dishes each week. This dish is open to interpretation and you can substitute various cheeses such as Asiago or feta in place of the Parmesan; and replace the oregano with other dried herbs, such as thyme, basil, or dill.

**Spinach & Ricotta-Stuffed Shells**

2 cups Basic Marinara Sauce, divided (recipe follows)
cooking spray
2-1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup (2 oz) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 (10-oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
1 large egg yolk
1 garlic clove, minced
24 cooked jumbo pasta shells (conchiglioni)

Preheat oven to 350F.
Spread 1/2 cup Basic Marinara over bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Combine ricotta and next 8 ingredients (through garlic) in a large bowl, stirring well. Spoon about 1-1/2 T filling into each pasta shell. Arrange stuffed shells in prepared dish; spread with remaining 1-1/2 cups Basic Marinara. Cover and bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 6

Basic Marinara

3 T olive oil
3 cups chopped yellow onion (about 3 medium)
1 T sugar
3 T minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp dried basil
1-1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 cups fat-free, less sodium chicken broth
3 (28 oz) cans no salt added crushed tomatoes

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add sugar and next 7 ingredients (through fennel seeds); cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in vinegar; cook 30 seconds. Add broth and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat for 55 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.

Yields about 12 cups (serving size is 1/2 cup)

This sauce makes enough for several recipes so freeze the remainder. Long stints in the refrigerator can dull the taste of tomatoes. To perk up thawed sauce; add 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon rind or 1 tsp balsamic vinegar while reheating. Best Blogger Tips


  1. If those shells could speak, they would say 'Put me in your mouth!'

  2. Valli, Your stuffed shells look mighty good!!!!!!!!!!

  3. These look really good. I have been meaning to try stuffing pasta shells for a while now.

  4. Um-Um-UM! I love pasta shells and I've been making to try my own...nice flavours.

  5. Hi Valli, these are a good idea. Coincidentally, I made spinach and ricotta lasagna. It was meant to be cannelloni but I ran out of time (it takes me a while to stuff cannelloni & I had a very hungry man breathing down my neck...), so I decided at the last minute to make it into lasagna - chunky marinara sauce, sliced roasted pumpkins and the spinach and ricotta filling. I still have a serving left in the freezer for me to take to work lunch one of these days.

    I forgot to ask you how things are at work, i.e. adjusting to a new doctor, etc.

  6. Valli, so delicious recipe!!! well I love spinachs in all types, and with ricotta!!! so yummy.Nice recipe.xxxGloria

  7. Thanks guys for all of your encouraging comments. I have yet to even make my own pasta outside of a classroom Peter.
    Your makeshift lasagna sounds delcious Nora with the additon of the pumpkin. Very heart healthy!!As an aside the new doctor is a very sweet and caring lady, but the office is still complete chaos!!

  8. I usually spend Sunday cooking as well, but I didn't cook one single thing this Sunday!! These shells look delicious!

  9. These look great and are one of my favorite ways to eat pasta! They are a very "comfort" food!

  10. I love your stuffed shells, Valli :)

  11. Hey Valli! This is such an interesting way of eating conchiglioni. I never had anything like this. I'm going to try to make it!

  12. Valli, this is one of my most favorite baked pastas. I love all the wonderful flavors together.

    Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.


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