Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Holiday Recipe ~ Slacker Spinach Stuffed Pasta Shells

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If you like stuffed pasta shells but hate the extra step of cooking the jumbo pasta first, this is the recipe for you.  My youngest demanded that I make a half and half dish with red sauce and Alfredo sauce, and I decided I was up to the challenge.


1 jar red sauce + 1 jar water
1 jar Alfredo sauce + 1 jar water
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella
2 cups cooked (cooled) or frozen spinach (thawed)
2 eggs
1 box jumbo pasta shells
salt & pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350.  In two separate sauce pans place 1 jar of red sauce + 1 jar of water and 1 jar of Alfredo + 1 jar of water in the other, and simmer on low to warm.  In large bowl mix ricotta, mozzarella, spinach and eggs.  Grab a large baking dish (I think mine is 9x11) and spread some of each sauce to wet the bottom.  I did red sauce on one half of the dish and Alfredo on the the other half.  Get ready to get messy.  Grab a spoon and start stuffing your pasta shells.  I find the teaspoon the best way to get the stuffing mix pushed into the pasta shell, especially the ones that are more closed than open.  Place stuffed shell open side down in baking dish.  Repeat process until baking dish is full. Cover stuffed shells with sauces.  I had to go back and fourth poring the sauces to keep it close to half and half like my daughter wanted.  I had a few tablespoons of the stuffing left over, so I just did little spoonfuls on top of the sauce.  Bake for 45-60 minutes and let settle for 10 minutes before serving.

If you are not as crazy as I am, you can mix the sauces together in one pot with the water, or just do a red sauce.  I really liked how the stuffed shells came out.  Each section had a distinctive flavor, and the whole family was happy.  The secret to not precooking the shells is to make the sauce extra watery.  The extra water gets pulled into the shells, along with the flavor.  This is also so easy to make with just about any pasta sauce.  Most times I end up using leftover spaghetti sauce.  I've also made this with some pepper-jack cheese to give it an extra kick. This takes a little longer to bake, but when it comes to cold winter nights, I have no problems with that.