Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Jumbo Stuffed Shells with Spinach

The Mission:
Use up some leftover ricotta cheese from lasagna the other day, and use the box of jumbo shells that has been sitting in the cabinet for the past two months or so. I didn't really use a recipe for this, instead I kinda just tossed the ingredients together. I thought it turned out okay, but next time I'll use less spinach.

The Ingredients:
  • 1 box of jumbo shells
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups mozzarella - shredded
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 6 oz chopped spinach (I used frozen since I had it on hand)
  • 4 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 big jar of the sauce of your choice

The Instructions:

Prepare the jumbo shells as directed on the package. Drain them and set them aside to cool off a bit (they're easier to stuff when they don't burn you). Brown the ground beef in a medium saucepan with the garlic and the Italian seasoning. You can also add other spices to taste. I think I threw in a tsp or two of crushed red pepper to pep it up a little. Thaw and drain the frozen spinach. Add half of it to the ground beef mixture. Pour 1/2 cup of the sauce into the ground beef mixture and stir. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs then stir in the ricotta cheese, 2 cups of the mozzarella, 2 Tbsp of the parmesan, and the remaining spinach. Set aside. Now you're ready to stuff the shells. Spoon a bit of the meat mixture and a bit of the cheese mixture into each shell - I think I put about 1 Tbsp of each into each shell. Set the stuffed shells into a 9x13" baking dish. When all the shells are stuffed and placed in the dish, pour the remaining pasta sauce over them, top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Cover and bake in a 350*F oven for 40 minutes, uncover and bake 15-20 minutes more - until cheese is melty.

The Result:

My husband HATED the spinach. He said that it really took away the flavor of the cheese. So, if I ever make this again, I will only use half of the spinach and add it only to the meat mixture, leaving the cheese mixture green-free. I thought that I'd made these for him before, but apparently not. Oh well - he at it anyway and it kinda grew on him. This recipe can be made without any of the spinach of course, in case you have a picky eater. Other than that issue, everything else was fine.

The Reviews:

I thought it tasted pretty good, and we had one friend who shared leftovers with us who liked it as well. I wish it had gone over better with my husband, but it's no big deal. I can leave out the majority of the spinach and still sneak a little bit into the meat mixture. I will dice it very small so maybe he won't even notice it :)

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