Stuffed shells are good for a crowd, a cold winters night or simply dinner for two (and then some) … they can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge or kept longer, frozen. Minimal ingredients are needed and substitutions are most definitely possible. They are simple to prepare and cost is minimal. A bit of prep time is needed, but it’s worth it! While the shells are cooking, prepare additional ingredients and refrigerate until shells are cool enough to handle…
Here’s what you’ll need and how to do it;
1 10 oz. package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry. (or substitute fresh swiss chard – chopped and sautéed or fresh kale – same preparation)
1 15 oz.package ricotta cheese
1 cup freshly grated parmesan (or asiago cheese)
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil – I used pesto, scrumptious!
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion – chop and sauté in olive oil until browned
1/2 tsp. each coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pkg. (12 oz) jumbo shells, cooked according to directions
2.5 cups marinara sauce (homemade or store bought)
What to do;
Combine spinach, browned onions, garlic, ricotta, parmesan cheese, basil, salt, and pepper in large bowl. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spoon 1 cup (or 1 large ladle full) marinara sauce on bottom of 13 X 9 baking dish. Fill each cooked pasta shell with spinach mixture. Place shells, cheese side up in dish. Spoon remaining sauce over shells. Cover loosely with foil; bake 30 minutes or until heated through. Top with additional sauce (if necessary) and fresh cheese. Serve with side salad and bread or lay a feast for crowd and add sausages, eggplant parmesan, spaghetti and more garlic bread – no one will go home wanting…
No marinara sauce in the house? Here’s an easy solution – canned crushed tomatoes. I use them all the time. Open the tin and use as is, or spice it up a bit with browned onions, garlic, fennel seeds, and freshly cracked pepper. Voila – ‘homemade’ marinara for pennies.