This meal was a staple at my parent’s house when I was growing up. I would get so excited when my mom would tell me we would be having “Shells” for dinner. When I was younger, I wouldn’t like it as much as I do now, because of the “green stuff” (spinach) that was included in the filling, but now, I just love the flavours of the filling and how quick it is to make this. The result when putting this recipe altogether is a delicious dinner that has always been very popular at dinner parties and with the family.
Let me know what you think!
- 16 jumbo pasta shells (Cook a couple of extra shells)
- 1-1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp fresh garlic, minced
- 4 cups fresh spinach leaves, roughly-chopped (I always use the fresh spinach but you can use the frozen spinach if it’s defrosted)
- 12 oz ricotta cheese (I get mine from Galati cheese in Windsor or just go to an Italian deli)
- 1 cup shredded skim-milk mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
- 1-1/4 cups fresh tomato sauce (I always use meatless sauce or you can add ground beef to your sauce)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cook the pasta shells first, put a little bit of olive oil in the water so the shells don’t stick together.
- Drain and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the garlic and cook until it begins to brown, about a minute or two. Add the spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leaves begin to turn bright green, about 3 to 4 minutes. The spinach should be reduced by half.
- Remove from the heat and let cool.
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, basil and salt and pepper until thoroughly combined. Pour 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce into the bottom of a shallow 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish.
- Stuff each pasta shell with a generous amount of the spinach and ricotta mixture, and place in the baking dish.
- Cover with the remaining sauce and bake covered with aluminum foil for 25 minutes. You may have to cook it a bit longer depending on your oven. Sometimes it takes me 30-35 minutes of baking.
- Remove the foil and continue baking until the top begins to brown and the sauce begins the bubble, another 10-15 minutes.
- Serve warm with a dusting of Parmesan cheese.