Thursday, February 11, 2010

these photos are blegh. i'm sorry.

i don't bake a lot of dinners. we don't eat very many casseroles, pasta bakes, etc., because i tend to prefer using the stove top for dinners. this might also be because i don't typically enjoy my dinner mixed into one giant pan. of course there are exception, and stuffed shells is one (right up there with lasagna).

the other day, a craving for a warm, pasta based dish hit. not lasagna this time, but shells or rolls, or something. my search led to me to this, and i promptly added the items i didn't already have to my grocery list.

sausage, spinach, and ricotta stuffed shells (adapted from elise at
1 12 oz package jumbo pasta shells
1 tbsp olive oil
1 c finely chopped yellow onion
1 lb sweet italian sausage (i found this without casings)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 egg
15 oz ricotta cheese (small tub)
10 oz chopped frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry, chopped further
1 c grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 c unseasoned bread crumbs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3 14.5 oz cans tomatoes (herbs, celery/onions, plain, whatever), including the liquid, tomatoes broken up
9x13 and 9x9 pans (1 each)

1. cook pasta shells according to directions, then drain, rinse in cold water, and cool.
2. heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat
3. add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes
4. add sausage, breaking up into smaller bits and cook until cooked through
5. add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then remove pan from heat
6. beat egg in a large bowl, then mix in ricotta, chopped spinach, 1/2 c parmesan, basil, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper
7. add slightly cooled sausage mixture
8. cover bottom of 9x13 and 9x9 pans with a thin layer of tomatoes and liquid
9. fill each cooked pasta shell with some of the ricotta, spinach, sausage mixture, then arrange shells into dishes
10. spread remaining tomatoes and liquid over shells
11. cover pans with foil and bake at 375F for 30 minutes
12. remove foil, cover with remaining 1/2 c parmesan and bake for 10 more minutes uncovered

i had 3-4 shells left without filling when all was said and done, but i like to generously fill the pasta. the original recipe calls for two large pans, but i arranged my shells neatly in rows and was able to fit everything in one large and one small pan.

because we are just two people who enjoy leftovers only once after a meal is served, i froze my small pan of shells (before baking). wrapped in foil, then cling wrap, this will stay for about 4 months. i've got a plan to freeze a number of upcoming dishes before the baby arrives so i have a little less to do around the house those first few weeks.

sorry about the pink/warm plate

this was perfect comfort food. i wasn't sure about the canned tomatoes (rather than sauce), but it was much lighter than typical baked pastas and i enjoyed that. just enough cheese to satisfy and excellent flavors in the filling. i'm looking forward to having my next batch in just a few weeks!


Thomas said...

It sounds and looks so yummy (minus the sausage)!

tangerine eats said...

this makes me drool!