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Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells: A Cheesy and Flavorful Delight

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells: A Cheesy and Flavorful Delight

Delight your taste buds with Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells—a comforting and satisfying dish that combines jumbo pasta shells filled with a creamy and cheesy spinach and ricotta mixture, all baked to perfection in a savory tomato sauce. This Italian-inspired recipe is a crowd-pleaser, perfect for family dinners or special occasions. The combination of tender pasta, flavorful filling, and rich tomato sauce creates a mouthwatering experience that will leave you craving more. Join us as we explore the ingredients, step-by-step instructions, storage tips, serving suggestions, and frequently asked questions to create a delightful Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells dish.

Ingredients:

To create your own Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells, gather the following ingredients:

  • 20 jumbo pasta shells: Provides the perfect vessel for the filling.
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese: Adds a creamy and rich texture.
  • 2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and drained: Provides a nutritious and flavorful addition.
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese: Adds gooey and melty goodness.
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese: Offers a salty and nutty flavor.
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten: Helps bind the filling together.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced: Adds depth and aroma.
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil: Provides a hint of herbal flavor.
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano: Enhances the Italian-inspired taste.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste: Enhances the overall flavor.
  • 2 cups marinara sauce: Provides a rich and tangy tomato base.
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish: Adds freshness and a pop of color.

Instructions:

Follow these simple steps to create your cheesy and flavorful Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and lightly grease a baking dish.
  2. Cook the jumbo pasta shells according to the package instructions until they are al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, thawed and drained spinach, shredded mozzarella cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, lightly beaten egg, minced garlic, dried basil, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Mix well until fully combined.
  4. Spoon the spinach and ricotta mixture into each cooked jumbo pasta shell until they are generously filled.
  5. Arrange the stuffed shells in the greased baking dish in a single layer.
  6. Pour the marinara sauce over the stuffed shells, making sure they are well coated.
  7. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted and slightly golden.
  8. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes to allow the cheese to brown slightly.
  9. Remove from the oven and let the stuffed shells rest for a few minutes before serving.
  10. Garnish with fresh basil leaves before serving.

Storage Tips:

If you have any leftovers or want to prepare the dish in advance, follow these storage tips:

  • Store the leftover stuffed shells in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Reheat the stuffed shells in the oven or microwave, being careful not to overcook them.

Serving Suggestions:

Here are a few serving suggestions to enjoy your Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells:

  1. Serve them as a delicious and comforting main course for lunch or dinner.
  2. Pair them with a side salad or garlic bread for a complete meal.
  3. Garnish with additional grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves for added flavor.
  4. Serve them as part of a festive or special occasion meal with family and friends.

FAQs

Q: Can I use fresh spinach instead of frozen? A: Yes, you can use fresh spinach if you prefer. Make sure to blanch and drain the fresh spinach before adding it to the filling.

Q: Can I use a different type of cheese? A: While ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese are traditional choices, you can experiment with other cheeses that melt well and complement the flavors, such as fontina or goat cheese.

Q: Can I make the filling in advance? A: Yes, you can prepare the filling in advance and store it in the refrigerator until ready to assemble the stuffed shells. Be sure to give it a good stir before filling the shells.

Q: Can I freeze the stuffed shells? A: Yes, you can freeze the stuffed shells before baking. Assemble them in a freezer-safe dish, cover tightly, and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and follow the baking instructions.

Q: Can I use a different type of pasta? A: While jumbo pasta shells are traditional for this recipe, you can substitute with other large pasta shapes such as manicotti or cannelloni tubes.

Remember to adjust the ingredients, quantities, and additional seasonings based on your preferences and dietary needs. Enjoy your Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells—a cheesy and flavorful delight that brings the taste of Italy to your table!

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