Sunday, June 16, 2013

Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Shells

It's been HOT in herrre lately. We're finally seeing temperatures into the 90s, which means my days are spent getting heat advisory warning texts on my phone and coming up with unique excuses not to go running in this stifling heat and humidity. This weather also makes it REALLY easy to order takeout or eat leftovers; it's hard to WANT to cook when the weather drains every last bit of energy out of me. Here, it's not the heat that's the problem - it's DEFINITELY the humidity. 

Easy meals are the key - something that won't take long, or heat up the entire house (though you really can't avoid using the stove or oven 100%). In summer, I often forgo meat and try to use more fresh, in-season vegetables when possible - I also try to use up fresh herbs since I went crazy in the spring and planted, well, EVERYTHING. 

This is an easy recipe - pasta shells are stuffed with a cheese and spinach mixture (no meat!), then baked in a simple marinara. You can make your own marinara from scratch, or do like I did and take advantage of a B1G1 sale on jarred sauce. Serve with a fresh side salad, and make it a meal! 

Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Shells
adapted from Fork, Knife, Swoon

16 jumbo pasta shells, cooked according to package directions (al dente)
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
4 cups baby spinach leaves, chopped
1 12oz container ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, room temperature
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups marinara, divided

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the garlic and cook 1 minute or until fragrant and beginning to brown. Add the spinach and cook for 3-4 minutes or until wilted but still bright green, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool. 

Combine the cooled spinach mixture with the ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, basil, salt and pepper. 

Pour 1/2 cup of the marinara onto the bottom of an 8x8" baking dish. 

Stuff each cooked shell with some of the spinach-ricotta mixture. You can use a spoon, or do what I do and use a piping bag. Place the shells in a single layer in the baking dish. 

Top with the remaining 1 cup of sauce, then cover the dish with foil. Bake in a 375° oven for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake another 10-15 minutes or until the top is beginning to brown and the sauce is bubbling. 

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