Make your next pasta party extra special this month with these Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Shells made by My Italian Pets. They are stuffed with generous amounts of authentic Italian cheese, baby spinach and smeared in rich marinara sauce. This tasty dish is always a big hit at any pasta gathering and can even be made ahead of time! These delectable treats are perfect for hosting mommies-to-be, kids at heart, and home cooks alike!
Prep: The ingredients are very simple. You simply combine all the ingredients together in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. When the consistency is somewhat stiff, add a little water or milk and blend again until smooth. The dough should be sticky enough to form a semi-hard shell.
Prepare the Baking Dish: Once you have your dough finished baking, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prepare a baking dish by lining it with parchment paper. For a healthier alternative, substitute half of the cooking oil with olive oil. If you must use leftover bread crumbs or shredded biscuit bits, they can be used in place of the spinach and ricotta. Use cookie cutters to cut out the shapes of pasta dishes. Place the cookies in the baking dish and allow them to sit for about ten minutes to slightly soften. The cookies will shrink down in volume while baking.
Make the Filling: Now that the cookies are cooled and ready to fill, all you need is a pasta bowl, some grated Parmesan cheese, fresh basil leaves, and a drizzle of olive oil. Fill the bowl with the dough and place the filled pasta on top. Spread a layer of the flat bread crumbs over the cheese. You can now start working with the stuffing. Add a generous helping of the fresh basil leaves to the center of the shell. Secure the edges of the pasta with the help of a fork.
If the recipe calls for some kind of meat or fat, this can be substituted with vegetable oil, margarine, or peanut oil. If you prefer, marinara or tomato sauce can be added as a tasty topping. Cook the pasta and peppers in the marinara or sauce of your choice for about five minutes to allow the flavors to infuse the meal. Once the desired thickness is reached, remove the shells from the heat and allow them to cool.
Making Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Pasta Shells can also be adjusted to include other ingredients such as chicken breasts, mushrooms, or even spinach. To make this dish appear more appealing to your taste buds, it is recommended that you bake the spinach or chicken breasts in a foil pan. When done, simply place them on top of the baked shells and drizzle the entire thing with a bit of olive oil. Baking the veggies in this way will ensure that the meal can retain its freshness for a more extended period.
To make this dish appear more appealing, it is best to use the best quality ingredients available. The ingredients should include high-quality cheese such as sharp cheddar, Gouda, or Swiss, and low-fat milk like almond or skim. Any of these ingredients blended together will produce a good result when combined with a good marinara or cream sauce, along with a generous helping of parsley, olive oil, and garlic breadcrumbs. A little bit of water added into the mix will help you achieve the right consistency.
One of the most important things about making this dish is ensuring that you do not overcook the spinach filling. As soon as you notice that the shells are getting soft, gently turn the oven off, open a cupboard or drawer, and add the prepared cheeses and pasta. Cover the lid of the mixing bowl with plastic wrap, and leave the mixture to cook for approximately 20 minutes. Once the time is up, uncover the cooked shell and carefully remove the contents using a strainer or a spoon. Serve immediately to keep the flavors within the spinach filling to a minimum.