Last week it snowed. I know it's supposed to be spring, but we still got snow and the entire family was "snowed in" at home. I decided to make something hearty and comforting for lunch. These stuffed shells fit the bill because my family loves pasta. I loved how impressive the dish looked when it came out of the oven. I thought stuffing all the pasta shells would be a pain, but it was pretty easy and quick. I will definitely need to buy another box of these large shells and the next time I make them.... I hope it's warm and sunny outside. :)
3 tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
6-8 cloves garlic, finely chopped, divided
2 medium onions, finely chopped, divided
Salt and pepper (to taste)
2 tsp dried oregano
1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes or to taste
1 Tbs dried basil or a large handful fresh basil minced
1-2 tsp brown sugar (to taste)
1lb of lean ground meat (beef, chicken or pork)
1lb box of large size pasta shells
1 jar favorite pasta sauce (45oz bottle)
1 cup chicken broth or bullion and water equivalent
1lb bag frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
Freshly grated nutmeg, about 1/4 teaspoon
3 cups fresh cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg lightly beaten
8oz of shredded mozzarella cheese
To make the meat sauce:
Season meat with:
* Salt and pepper to taste
* dried oregano
* crushed red pepper flakes
* dried basil
* brown sugar
To make the pasta shells layer:Boil the pasta shells until they are 1 minute shy of al dente. The pasta will finish cooking with the other ingredients in the oven.
When the spinach mixture has cooled down, mix in the ricotta cheese and Parmesan mixture and egg.
Now fill the pasta shells with the spinach/cheese filling. Place over 2/3 of the pasta sauce in a baking dish. Top shells with remaining 1/3 of meat sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Serve hot. Enjoy.
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