This recipe is my standby for when we entertain. I like to spend time with my guests once they arrive so I always try to cook something that can just be popped in the oven but still looks fancy and this dish does just that. It also makes the perfect dish to prepare and freeze if you need to drop some food off for a friend or you’re trading dinner for alpaca hair.
Cheese and Spinach Stuffed Shells
1 package (~250 g) jumbo pasta shells (about 2 dozen shells plus a few extra)
1 container (~500 g) ricotta cheese
1 package (~300 g) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 cup grated Parmesan or mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper
1 tsp italian seasoning
1 jar (~750 mL) tomato sauce (any kind you like – store bought or home-made)
extra grated cheese for sprinkling on top (optional)
Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until tender. Drain and set aside. You should cook a few extra shells because some always break!
While the pasta is cooking place ricotta, spinach, grated cheese, egg, salt, pepper and italian seasoning into a bowl. Using your hand or a spoon mix until well combined.
Spread ~2 cups tomato sauce over bottom of 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Fill each shell with a heaping tablespoon of the ricotta mixture and arrange on top of tomato sauce. Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with more grated cheese if you’d like. Cover tightly with foil.
Bake shells in the oven for about 30-45 minutes until the sauce starts to bubble. Remove foil and continue to bake another 5 minutes until cheese is golden.
Make Ahead: After covering the uncooked shells with foil you could place the shells in the fridge for up to three days, or freeze for up to three months. If you freeze them, cook from frozen and add about 30 minutes extra cooking time to what is given.