Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Spinach Shells: Two Ways

In my garden, I have an abundance of spinach, which is great because I LOVE spinach. Spinach and peas find a way into almost everything I make! LOL I wanted to play with dishes that feature spinach as a main ingredient, like my Spinach Lasagna which is to die for. (Okay I wouldn’t DIE for it but it is really good).

As I was experimenting with a recipe very loosely inspired by Giada De Laurentiis I went even further to try it with two types of shells: tiny shells and large stuffable shells. While both were good, and they both had the exact same ingredients, I have to admit the small shells were better. Something about how the ingredients blended together with the shells. I will definitely be making this again, very soon. (Especially since my spinach needs picking after all this rain we’ve had!)

Spinach Stuffed Shells and Spinach Shell Pasta
½ box jumbo pasta shells OR
2 cups tiny shells
1 gallon bucket of fresh spinach leaves (I would guess about 2 bags but I pick my spinach in a 1 gallon strawberry bucket)
½ container of whole milk ricotta
1 cup cottage cheese (You can use a whole container of ricotta but I always cut some calories by substituting some cottage. It works well)
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup parmesan/gruyere mix
1 small onion
1 garlic clove,minced

½ stick butter
3 tbs flour
1 cup cream
1 cup grated parmesan
½ cup gruyere

Boil shells in salted water until al dente. If you are using the large shells definitely do not over cook or they will fall apart when you try to stuff them.

In a food processor, combine garlic and onion. Add washed spinach and chop until spinach is fine and combined. In a bowl, combine ricotta, cottage, gruyere/parm mix, salt and pepper and spinach mixture. Blend well. Set aside.

In a sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until smooth. Cook for 1 minute. Add cream and cook until smooth and it coats the spoon. Remove from heat and add in cheeses.

For Stuffed shells: Use spinach mixture to gently fill shells and place in a greased casserole dish. Pour Sauce OVER shells. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until bubbly.

For Spinach and Shells: Mix Sauce into Spinach mixture. Gently add mini cooked shells and stir until well blended. Place in a casserole dish. Sprinkle with ½ cup mozzarella cheese and bake at 350 for about 12-15 minutes until bubbly and cheese topping is turning golden brown. (You could also add some bread crumbs to the top and drizzle with olive oil for a firm crust).

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