I tried cooking stuffed shells for the first time on Wednesday and to my surprise it was a breeze to make! On a recent shopping trip my boyfriend, who loves pasta, decided to pick out a box of stuffed shells. I had never worked with them before, but hey, I’m pretty new to this cooking things and there’s a bunch of things I haven’t worked with yet so I decided to take this opportunity to enhance my cooking skills. I have to say I was a little apprehensive about making it at first because when I think of stuffed shells it takes me back to that bland, god-awful school lunch most of us were subjected to eating; thankfully this recipe is nothing of the sort. I researched a bunch of recipes as I always do when cooking something new to get a feel for how other people work with a certain ingredient. Out of the hodge podge of recipes I found I decided to make my modified version of Spinach Stuffed Shells. The best part you: won’t even have to boil the shells!
What you’ll need:
A box of shells, 160z tub of ricotta, 5oz (about 1/2 pack) frozen chopped spinach, 2 (or so) cups of mozzarella, pasta sauce, seasonings.
What to do:
-Defrost frozen spinach: I left mine out in a bowl until the ice melted. Once ice was melted I squeeze out the excess water. Spinach has tons of water so if you don’t squeeze it out your mixture will be runny. I’ve seen people use a towel but that kind of seems like a waste of a towel to me, instead, I put my defrosted spinach in some plastic wrap twisted it into a ball, poked a few tiny holes in the bottom with a knife and squeezed it over the sink. It was actually pretty fun
-Combine ricotta, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, spinach, and about teaspoon of each to your taste: garlic powder, black pepper, dried basil and a tbsp of fresh parsley. You can definitely used dried parsley but I had some fresh sprigs so I used that instead.
Fill uncooked shells with the mixture. I’m a cooking newbie so I definitely don’t have a piping device, instead, I used a zip lock bag to fill my shells. Just spoon the mixture into the bag, zip it up and cut one of the corners off of the bottom to squeeze you mixture through. Make sure you cut a big enough hole so the spinach can get through!
-Spread pasta sauce all over the bottom of that pan that you will be baking the shells in as shown in the pic (sort of like when you’re making lasagna), arrange the shells on top and scatter a little more pasta sauce on top sparingly. This will make the shells tender while they are baking and prevent them from sticking to the pan. Notice in the photo that I arranged my shells closely so than when they bake up it becomes a sort of casserole.
-Cover with foil to lock in moisture and bake at 350 degrees for about 1hr or until the shells look tender. Once that happens, uncover the pan sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of mozzarella cheese over the top and bake uncovered for an extra 10-15 min or until the cheese on top melts.