Do you ever run across a meal that you love so much and you can’t wait to eat the next day because you know it will just get better in the fridge over night?
Yes, I am a pasta addict but I am not sure anyone on the earth could hate this meal.
I should have titled it “Un-hate-able stuffed pasta” That has a nice ring to it.
There are a several steps to this recipe but none are too complicated and it comes together faster than you would think.
If you are feeling antsy about all steps make sure you have everything you need in your corner before you get started.
First you just cook the shells according to package instructions.
Your wring out spinach by defrosting and twisting in a kitchen towel.
Create the stuffing. Stuffing the shells is fun too!
There are two sauces on these shells. One is a quick homemade marinara and one is a creamy bechamel. Two sauces you ask? Why yes. One for pretty color and the acidity of tomatoes and one for the velvety smooth meltiness that only a cream sauce can give to a pasta.
Then you drizzle on the marinara. As you can see, it makes a lot. Approximately 30 shells.
Although this guy may have gotten a few of the shells before they were stuffed…..because he waited patiently. He loves pasta too. He get it from his mama.
Followed by the bechamel.
And followed up again by mozzarella cheese.
Bake it and prepare yourselves. This is good stuff.
SPINACH STUFFED SHELLS WITH MARINARA AND BECHAMEL
a hungry apple original
12 oz box of jumbo pasta shells
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated (1-8 ounce block for total recipe, 4 for filling and 4 for topping)
parmesan cheese, grated
for marinara sauce:
1-14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes
1-8 ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup water with 1 beef bouillon cube (if cooking for a vegetarian, substitute 1 cup vegetable broth)
2 garlic cloves, minced or 2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon sea salt
10 grinds fresh pepper or 1 tsp pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
for shell stuffing:
2 lb container ricotta cheese (i used part skim but you could use whole if you like)
4 more ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
1-10 ounce frozen package of spinach, thawed and wrung of excess water
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
10 grinds fresh pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Freshly ground black pepper
generous grating of nutmeg or pinch nutmeg powder
2 cups milk (i used 1%)
Instructions and directions:
Cook pasta shells al dente in salted water according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Meanwhile combine all marinara ingredients into a medium saucepan and let simmer on low.
In a large bowl, combine stuffing ingredients.
In a large casserole dish (9×13) or two small (8×8) sprayed with cooking spray, make a thin layer coating the bottom of the dish with marinara sauce. Stuff each shell with approximately 2-3 heaping tablespoons of filling and line in dish or dishes. When all shells are stuffed and lined, top with remaining marinara.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter for bechamel. When butter is melted whisk in flour and whisk for 1 minute. Slowly add in milk and whisk constantly until smooth. Add pepper (about 5 grinds) and nutmeg. Whisk for 5 minutes until sauce has thickened.
Pour sauce over shells and marinara sauce. Top with remaining 4 ounces mozzarella.
Bake on 350 for 25 minutes. Top with parmesan cheese.