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Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

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Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells are a comforting and satisfying dish that combines large pasta shells filled with a creamy spinach and ricotta cheese mixture, baked in marinara sauce and topped with melted mozzarella cheese. This recipe is perfect for gatherings or weeknight dinners, offering a delicious blend of flavors and textures. Here’s how to make Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells at home.


Ingredients:

  • 1 box (12 ounces) jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 container (15 ounces) ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • Fresh basil leaves, chopped, for garnish

Instructions:

1. Cook the Pasta Shells:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the jumbo pasta shells according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. Prepare the Filling:

  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add finely chopped onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes until translucent.
  2. Add minced garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  3. Stir in thawed and squeezed dry chopped spinach. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove the skillet from heat and let the spinach mixture cool slightly.
  5. In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, beaten egg, dried oregano, dried basil, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well.
  6. Add the cooked spinach mixture to the cheese mixture and stir until evenly combined.

3. Stuff the Pasta Shells:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Spread 1 cup of marinara sauce evenly on the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  3. Using a spoon, carefully fill each cooked pasta shell with the spinach and ricotta cheese mixture. Arrange the stuffed shells in a single layer in the prepared baking dish.

4. Bake:

  1. Spoon the remaining marinara sauce over the stuffed shells, covering them evenly.
  2. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese over the top.
  3. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted.

5. Serve:

  1. Remove the Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells from the oven and let them cool slightly.
  2. Garnish with chopped fresh basil leaves before serving.

6. Optional Serving Suggestions:

  • Serve Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells hot, accompanied by garlic bread or a crisp green salad.
  • Pair with a glass of red wine such as Chianti or Sangiovese to complement the flavors of the dish.

7. Tips:

  • To save time, you can prepare the filling and cook the pasta shells ahead of time. Store the filling in the refrigerator and assemble the stuffed shells just before baking.
  • Customize the filling by adding chopped sun-dried tomatoes or cooked ground Italian sausage for extra flavor.
  • Leftover Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently in the oven or microwave before serving.

Conclusion:

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells are a delightful Italian-inspired dish that combines creamy ricotta cheese, savory spinach, and marinara sauce, all baked to perfection. This recipe offers a comforting and satisfying meal that is sure to please both family and guests alike. Enjoy the cheesy goodness and flavorful spinach filling of Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells for a memorable dining experience at home.

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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