Thursday, October 7, 2010

Spinach and Ricotta-Stuffed Shells

We enjoyed this recipe, but didn't love it like crazy. I was surprised at how little my son cared for it, actually. I think it could definitely use more marinara and less ricotta mixture. Plus, the homemade marinara was a lot of work for a red sauce. I'd probably just use something I already had in the pantry to save time. I doubt I'll be making this one again anytime in the near future.

This recipe comes from Cooking Light magazine. I'm excited to try the homemade marinara sauce (using the extra for other yummy things!), but I'm sure you could substitute your own favorite red sauce to simplify the preparation.

Basic Marinara
1 T olive oil
1 c chopped yellow onion
1 t sugar
1 T minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
3/4 t salt
3/4 t dried basil
1/2 t dried oregano
1/4 t dried thyme
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1/8 t fennel seeds, crushed
2 t balsamic vinegar
2/3 c chicken broth
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes (no-salt-added variety)

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 4 minutes stirring frequently. Add sugar and next 7 ingredients (through fennel seeds); cook 1 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in vinegar; cook 30 seconds. Add broth and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat for 55 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.
Yield: about 4 cups

Spinach and Ricotta-Stuffed Shells
2 c Basic Marinara
2 1/2 c part-skim ricotta
1/2 c grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t dried oregano
1/4 t salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1 (10 0z) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
1 large egg yolk
1 garlic clove, minced
24 cooked jumbo pasta shells

Preheat oven to 350. Spread 1/2 cup Basic Marinara over bottom of a 13x9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine ricotta and next 8 ingredients (through garlic) in a large bowl, stirring well. Spoon about 1 1/2 Tablespoons filling into each pasta shell. Arrange stuffed shells in prepared dish; spread with remaining 1 1/2 cups Basic Marinara. Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

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