Spinach and Ricotta-Stuffed Shells

This is really good.  It smells like an Italian restaurant.  If you need to reduce the calories or fat, just substitute part skim ricotta instead of whole fat ricotta.  It’s creamy and wonderful.  Don’t skip the broiler step as it slightly chars the shredded mozzarella topping and gives it a great flavor!  Next time, I’d chop some fresh parsley on top.  

INGREDIENTS:

  • 20 jumbo pasta shells (about half a 12-ounce box)
  • One  24-ounce jar marinara sauce
  • Two  15-ounce containers ricotta
  • 2 cups baby spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2 ounces)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella (4 ounces)

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Set an oven rack to the highest position and heat oven to 400° F.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and run under cold water to cool.
  3. Spread the marinara sauce in the bottom of a large broiler-proof baking dish.
  4. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, spinach, Parmesan, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the shells and place them on top of the sauce.
  6. Sprinkle the shells with the mozzarella and bake until heated through, 10 to 12 minutes.
  7. Increase heat to broil. Broil the shells until cheese begins to brown, 2 to 5 minutes.
  8. Serve with the salad, if desired.

NOTE: If you want to sneak in an extra helping of green vegetables into this dish, chop up cooked green beans, broccoli, or asparagus and fold it into the ricotta mixture along with the spinach.  

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