Friday, May 10, 2013

Ricotta and spinach stuffed shells - a nice idea for lunch on Mother's Day

Ricotta and spinach stuffed shells / Conchinhas recheadas com ricota e espinafre

Nigella promoted her cookbook in several different TV shows here in Brazil and in one of them she baked her chocolate banana muffins – she said that they would be a nice treat for breakfast on Mother’s Day. Her comment reminded me of this recipe I cooked a while ago, the first one I tried from Martha’s wonderful vegetarian cookbook: I find it perfect for a celebration day, since it can be put together in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator; all you need to do is let it come to room temperature, then bake it – easy-peasy.

Unfortunately I no longer have my mom around, but if I did I would probably make her both the muffins and the pasta bake – spoiling people with food is one of my favorite sports. ;)

Ricotta and spinach stuffed shells
adapted from the absolutely beautiful Meatless: More Than 200 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes

Tomato sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ large onion, finely diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 400g (14oz) can peeled tomatoes
¼ teaspoon sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
handful of fresh basil leaves
handful of fresh oregano leaves

Pasta and filling:
16 pasta shells (6cm each)*
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
100g frozen spinach, unthawed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
pinch of freshly nutmeg
1 ¼ cups fresh ricotta – I used homemade
¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped

Make the sauce: in a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the garlic, cook for 1-2 minutes, then add the tomatoes and the sugar. Fill 1/3 of the can with water, swirl it around and add to the saucepan. Season with salt and pepper, break the tomatoes with a wooden spoon then cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add the basil and oregano, stir to combine, cover and remove from the heat.
Cook shells in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and let cool. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.

Filling: in a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, cook for about 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the spinach and cook until it thaws, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and remove from the heat. Cool slightly.
In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, parmesan, spinach and parsley. Season again with salt and pepper.
Coat a 25x15cm (6x10in) ovenproof baking dish with the sauce. Generously spoon filling into shells and arrange in pan, dipping them into the sauce. Cover with foil and bake until bubbling, about 30 minutes.

* some shells might break in the boiling water, so it’s a good idea to cook more shells than you actually need

Serves 2 generously

1 comment:

Laura (Tutti Dolci) said...

I love stuffed shells, these look delicious! Adding nutmeg to the filling is a wonderful idea :).

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