what is your favorite pasta routine?
From time to time it is fun to change up your regular pasta routine. One day when I was throwing the usuals into my cart, my eye wandered over to the pasta shell box. I couldn’t remember the last time that I had cooked with them, so in the cart they went. Additionally, I had just put some gorgeous fresh spinach in my cart, so it was meant to be! All of the sudden a scrumptious dinner was taking form in my mind. I quickly grabbed some fresh basil and thyme and was off to start cooking.
do you know the secret to a mouth watering marinara sauce?
Whenever you are making a marinara sauce for dinner, it is important to let your sauce simmer for awhile. It is the the tried and true secret to a mouth watering sauce, and the compliments you will receive from your family and friends. It takes a little more time, but it is well worth it in the end. I like to start my sauce with a jar of your favorite tomato sauce combined with some canned tomatoes and fresh heirloom tomatoes. The mixture of all three varieties of tomatoes gives the sauce a particularly rich flavor.
time to boil the pasta shells!
Once the sauce is simmering away, it is time to prepare the shells. I liked the idea of filling the shells with a fresh spinach and ricotta mixture. I started sauteing the fresh spinach at the same time that the shells were boiling in a big pot of water. Freshly minced garlic and a few grates of fresh nutmeg are added to the spinach to give it an especially delicious flavor boost. After the spinach was sauteed and reduced, I put it in the bowl of my food processor. The spinach mixture was combined with ricotta and fresh lemon juice to create the perfect filling for my cute little shells.
time to get this dish in the oven!
Finally it was time to combine all of the delicious ingredients together. The first step is to spoon some dollops of the marinara sauce in the bottom of your favorite roasting pan or cocotte. The next step is to carefully arrange the stuffed shells all the way around your roasting pan. The last step is to scoop the marinara sauce over the filled shells like a warm winter blanket. A few grates of parmesan reggiano cheese and in the oven it goes. The good news is that you are awfully close to taking your first scrumptious bite, because the ingredients are precooked. A chiffonade of fresh basil, and to the table it goes!Print
spinach stuffed pasta shells in a blanket of marinara
pasta shells stuffed with spinach and ricotta covered in a meaty marinara sauce – what could be better than that??
- Prep Time: 1.5 hours
- Cook Time: 2 hours
- Total Time: 3.5 hours
- Yield: 4–6 servings 1x
- Category: main dish
- Method: cook top and oven
1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce
one 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
two 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes ( you may use the flavored variety if desired)
6 cloves of garlic minced
2 8 oz. packs of heirloom tomatoes cut in half
1 1/2 cups red wine
1 – 2 TB sugar
9 basil leaves chopped
2 tsp dried thyme
10 sprigs of fresh thyme stripped
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds of hamburger – cooked and forked into small pieces
20 pasta shells (depending on the size of your roasting pan )
Spinach – ricotta mixture:
1 pound of fresh spinach leaves
2 TB olive oil
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/8 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
16 oz. container of ricotta
2–3 TB fresh lemon juice
zest from 1/2 lemon
1/2 -1 cup of grated parmesan reggiano cheese
4 additional basil chopped for garnish
In a large stock pot, combine tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, and fresh heirloom tomatoes on medium high heat, stirring occasionally
Stir in minced garlic, red wine, sugar, dried thyme and let simmer for at least and hour
After the sauce has reduced, add cooked hamburger and let simmer for 20 minutes
Add fresh thyme and basil
In another large pot, bring water to a boil and cook pasta shells for 8-9 minutes
Drain and set aside to cool
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
While sauce is simmering, saute fresh spinach, olive oil, minced garlic and nutmeg until spinach has reduced
Place spinach in bowl of a food processor
Add ricotta cheese, fresh lemon zest/juice
Blend until smooth
Fill cooled shells with spinach – ricotta mixture
Cover the bottom of a roasting pan with marinara sauce
Arrange filled pasta shells on top of marinara
Sprinkle with grated parmesan reggiano cheese
Cover with the rest of the marinara sauce
Sprinkle with grated parmesan reggiano cheese
Bake in oven for 40 – 50 minutes, or until heated through
Remove from oven and sprinkle with additional grated parmesan reggiano cheese and fresh chopped basil
Keywords: tomatoes, pasta, spinach, ricotta, basil, parmesan reggiano cheese