Flecks of spinach blend with feta and ricotta cheeses to make this stuffing for jumbo pasta shells. Use your own favorite tomato sauce, homemade or jarred, as the topping. Preparation: 15 to 20 minutes, plus 30 to 35 minutes baking.
36 jumbo pasta shells (extra in case of breakage)
1⁄2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup finely chopped onion or shallot
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1⁄2 teaspoons basil
1 1⁄2 teaspoons oregano
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 pound regular or part-skim ricotta cheese
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups tomato sauce (homemade or purchased)
2 - 3 tablespoons freshly grated Reggiano Parmigiano cheese
Nutritional information per serving: Calories 452 (37% from fat) • carb. 51g • pro. 16g • fat 18g • sat. fat 8g • chol. 49mg • sod. 821mg • calc. 458mg • fiber 3g
1. In a 5-quart stockpot, cook the pasta shells in boiling salted water according to package instructions. Drain, rinse and set aside on a sheet pan lined with plastic wrap.
2. In an 8-inch skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and herbs; cook until softened and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Transfer to a medium (3-quart) bowl and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Place the thawed spinach in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze the liquid from the spinach; discard the liquid (you will have about ¾ cup chopped spinach). Add the spinach, ricotta, feta and pepper to the onion mixture in the bowl.
4. Mix on speed 2 for 30 seconds, then increase to speed 4 and mix for 1½ minutes.
Stuff each cooked shell with about 1½ tablespoons of the spinach mixture.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a 13 x 9 x 2-inch (or equivalent) baking dish with cooking spray.
6. Spoon 1 cup of the tomato sauce into the dish and spread evenly in the bottom. Arrange the shells, open side up. Spoon an additional 2 cups of the sauce evenly over the shells.
7. Cover loosely with foil and bake in the preheated 375°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
*Tip: Measure out filling using an ice cream scoop, just the perfect amount to fill each jumbo shell.