Thursday, June 21, 2012

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

I have a confession. I am in love with Italy. I have secret dreams of moving back abroad with my family and spending long summer evenings having garden parties with loved ones in the Tuscan sun. I don't know what it is but recently I have just been wanting Italian food. Maybe I am in need of a vacation! There is just something about pasta dishes that makes me want to be a glutton and eat myself into an endless food coma.

  • jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  •  1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes 
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 package (15 oz) whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cooked spinach, excess water pressed out 
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Boil pasta according to package instructions until about half done. You don't want them cooked all the way or they will get mushy once you bake them. 

 In a deep skillet, brown Italian sausage.

Add in your onion and garlic. 

Cook sausage, onion, and garlic until fragrant and onions become translucent, about 2 mins.

Add the crushed tomatoes, 2 tablespoons basil, crushed red pepper (if using), salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, combine ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, and 1/2 cup Parmesan.

Mix in remaining 2 tablespoons basil, parsley, and spinach.

Pour half of meat sauce  on the bottom of a 9 X 13 pan. (I made two 8 X 8 so I could freeze one for later!)

Stuff shells with cheese mixture.

Lay stuffed shells open side down on top of meat sauce.

Pour the other half meat sauce over shells and top with  remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Bake for 30 mins.

Try and tell me that doesn't look amazing!! And it was, it was so easy too! This would be so great  to serve at a dinner party and your friends will be super impressed by your awesome culinary skills! :)

Our Ratings:

Mama F: 10 - No 20!! This was so good. Cheesy, creamy, and just the right amount of spice for me.


Daddy F: 10 - This was an amazing dish that I could probably eat every night if I didn't care about my waist line. (No really, he said that) 

Fuller Kids: 10 - They both had a plate full and didn't even seem to mind the spice. Maybe the creamy cheese cut the spice down enough for them? 

Lucky the Dog: 10 - Nom Nom Nom.....she was so busy licking the gooey cheese of her jowls she couldn't comment!

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