Baked Shells

by Liz on October 1, 2011

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My husband informed me it has been a whole month since I posted last. For those of you who have kept up with me over the last year, you’ll know that it is mostly school related. I would love to put a more interesting spin on it than that, but that’s really all it is. Being married and taking five classes doesn’t leave a lot of time left for blogging.

buffalo mozzarella

chopped spinach

I made this recipe back in May, but completely forgot about it until I was looking through some old pictures. Convenient timing, yes? I do realize this is a very spring/summery dish, but perhaps it will be nice for those of you who are already knee-deep into fall, and aren’t quite ready for summer to be over yet. Down here in the South, summer is still reluctant to let go.

spinach and onions shells and cheese
shells and cheese pre-baked shells

I hope you are all enjoying the first day of October. It actually does feel like fall today, and I hope you are out enjoying it! I’ll be doing homework. Try not to be too jealous.

Baked Shells

Baked Shells
Adapted from Rachael Ray’s “Look and Cook”

As my memory and pictures serve me, the original recipe called for a 10 oz. box of frozen chopped spinach, but I had a big bunch of fresh spinach, so I just used that. Also: it is totally unnecessary to use buffalo mozzarella, I just happened to have a huge tub of it due to a great price at Costco. Also, even though the recipe calls for fresh mozzarella, I found it a little weird to eat in this dish, and might actually go with shredded mozzarella next time.

Ingredients:

Salt
1 pound medium pasta shells
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of extra liquid, OR 3-ish cups of fresh chopped spinach (so precise, right?)
Pinch of nutmeg
Black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup basil leaves
1 cup ricotta
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4 inch circles, or 8 oz. grated mozzarella

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Boil a large pot of salted water to boil, and cook pasta to about 2-3 minutes less than the package instructions. (Note: reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water when finished cooking the pasta.) While the pasta is cooking, sauté the onion in the olive oil until translucent (3-4 minutes), then add the garlic, cooking about 30 seconds, then add the spinach. Make sure to break the spinach apart if you’re using the frozen kind. Add nutmeg, and salt and pepper. After the spinach mixture is heated through, transfer it to a bowl and set aside. In the same pot, melt the butter, and then add the crushed tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the basil leaves, tearing them a bit while you add them. Cook the sauce for about 7-8 minutes until thickened.

Drain the pasta, and put it back in its pot. Add the spinach mixture, 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water, ricotta cheese, and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese. Stir until well combined, adding salt and pepper if needed. Use a little more pasta water if necessary to bring pasta mixture together. Put the pasta mixture into a baking dish, and top with the tomato sauce, mozzarella, and rest of the parmesan. Bake until cheese is melted everything is bubbling, about 6-8 minutes.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Kris January 29, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Would be good w some toasted pine nuts on top:)

Ayca panpankedi October 14, 2011 at 6:29 pm

ummm! Looks delicious. I want to try right away.Thanks.

Jesica @ Pencil Kitchen October 3, 2011 at 1:20 am

I was waiting for your next post! this looks AWESOME! (even though its summer spring dish :) )

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