This sounds like a dish that would keep you slaving over the stove for hours, and your dinner guests might think you have been cooking for days after they taste it. But it is actually quite easy to assemble and takes only about 30 minutes of prep time.
Stuffing the shells raw is part of the key to putting this dish together so quickly. It also helps that so many delicious red sauces in jars are available at your local supermarket. Go ahead and enjoy your Valentine’s Day dinner party while your oven does the rest of the work.
Check out the recipe below from the February 2016 issue of 225 and check out some of the other romantic dinner recipes here.
Spinach-stuffed Shells Baked in Red Sauce
Servings: 4 (One serving equals 4-5 shells each.)
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup ricotta cheese
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 box jumbo pasta shells
24-ounce jars of your favorite red sauce
2 cups freshly shredded mozzarella cheese
1. Thaw the frozen spinach, rinse it and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
2. In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil and add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté 10 to 20 seconds or just until the garlic becomes fragrant.
3. Quickly add the spinach and sauté for an additional 1 to 2 minutes or until the spinach is just heated through.
4. Remove the spinach from the pan and place it in a bowl to cool.
5. Once the spinach is cooled, add the salt, black pepper, ricotta, nutmeg and Parmesan cheese. Stir until all is well incorporated.
6. Using a teaspoon and your fingers, stuff the raw pasta shells with the spinach filling. This filling is enough for about 20 jumbo shells.
7. In a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish or in four 2-cup individual casserole dishes, pour in half the red sauce.
8. Place the filled shells into the casserole and cover with the remaining red sauce. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in a 350-degree oven for 50 minutes. Pierce one of the shells with a tester to make sure it is tender. If the shells are too firm, cover and bake for another 10 minutes.
9. Remove the foil and top with the 2 cups of shredded mozzarella. Bake for an additional 7 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool slightly before serving.