Cooking On A Budget: Spinach and Ricotta Shell Pasta

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Spinach and Ricotta Shell Pasta

Yum


Jumbo shells filled with luscious ricotta, spinach and mozzarella cheese combination sit atop a layer of fresh tomato slices then covered in a creamy Parmesan sauce where they get baked in the oven until the flavors meld together in perfect harmony.
When I made the dish I baked off what you see photographed so I could do a photo shoot and taste the food. What I failed to do (stupidly) was not cover the dish while baking so that's why the shells became a tad brown. However I did cover the remainder I baked off for the evening meal and despite my earlier mistake the dish tasted amazing - brown shells or not. The fresh slices of tomato is the perfect accompaniment to the Parmesan cream sauce and is what really pulls this dish together.
I stuffed them - really made them full so that three each is plenty even for a good sized appetite. I stuffed 11 shells and there was a bit more filling, so if you make a couple more cooked shells you can skimp the filling to make it all stretch to more shells.

  • 1 pkg. frozen spinach
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (+ some for the cream sauce* and some for topping if you want)
  • 1 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 1/8 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 1-2 tomatoes - sliced
  • 11-13 cooked jumbo shells
FOR THE SAUCE:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese*
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • cracked black pepper to taste
  1. Cook your jumbo shells according to box directions and drain.
  2. Have your tomatoes sliced and place them on the bottom of an oven proof casserole dish, overlap as necessary to make a fairly even layer.
  3. In a bowl combine the spinach, ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, the egg, black pepper, salt and chopped garlic. Mix well until all ingredients are nicely incorporated. Stuff the shells and set aside while you make the cream sauce.
  4. On the stove top over medium low heat, heat the cream. When the cream is warm add in the Parmesan cheese and cracked pepper. Whisk and when the cream is heated a little more add in the mozzarella cheese and whisk until melted.
  5. Pour some of the cream over the slices of tomato. Set your shells on top. Pour the remainder of the cream over the shells.
  6. At this point you can sprinkle on more mozzarella cheese before covering the casserole dish with aluminum foil.
  7. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 20 minutes covered and 5-10 minutes uncovered if the cheese hasn't entirely melted.
The recipe cost for me was $13.05, feeding four for $3.26 or six for $2.17.

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