Thursday, August 26, 2010

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

I used to make this all the time, but the jumbo shells have become hard to find. None of the grocery stores near my house carry them anymore for some reason. I had in my head to make them for some friends who just had a baby, so I ventured a little further east and bought a few boxes when I found them at the 'fancy' Kroger. It's a great dish to make ahead and freeze if you need to, so one of those good things to take to friends and family. Plus, it's a hit with all ages and it feeds a good size crowd. I made it a while back when we had some friends and their three kids over. The 7 year old (at the time) told me the shells "were the bomb". I'm pretty sure that's a high compliment.

For the Shells:
16-20 jumbo shells, cooked to package directions (I say 16-20 because you can get more or less depending on how much you stuff them. When I made them for the new parents, I got twenty. When I made this batch for us, sixteen. I don't know why.)
1 1/4 Ricotta Cheese (I generally use part skim or low fat. Always trying to keep it somewhat light)
bag of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 1/4 mozzarella, divided (again, part skim)
1 Egg
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
aprox 1 tsp Italian seasoning
fresh grated nutmeg
3-4 cups spaghetti sauce (jarred or this super easy sauce)
grated Parmesan and fresh basil for garnish

Lightly oil a baking dish and pour half of sauce into the bottom of the pan. Mix together Ricotta, spinach, 1 cup of mozzarella, egg, garlic, grated nutmeg (fresh does make a difference) and Italian seasoning (you can also add some grated parm, but I was trying to keep it tasting good without too much added fat and calories, for us, not for Graham). Stuff about a tablespoon of the filling into the shells and place in the pan. Spoon remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella over the top of the stuffed shells. Bake covered with foil at 350 for 30-35 minutes until hot and bubbly. Garnish with grated parm and basil.

It's easy to get creative with these guys. Add sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, onions pretty much anything into the filling. We really like this basic little recipe. Graham ate THREE of these babies and two for left overs the next day! Guess we'll have drive back out to the boonies of Far East Memphis to get some more shells.

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