November 17, 2016

Spinach & Ricotta Shells

Thanksgiving is only one week away and I cannot believe it! Ever since Halloween passed, every day goes so quickly and the holidays are zooming by. With all this holiday buzz, I've seen so many recipes for Thanksgiving foods. Don't get me wrong, I love me some homemade pie and loaded mashed potatoes but I've been craving foods outside of that category. 

Any time someone asks me what my favorite food is, I usually say pasta. I love all kinds of pasta but especially ones with a lot of cheese! Hey, they never specify on the nutritional value ;) When I was living at home before I got married, my mom always had a really fancy, homemade dinner planned for Sunday evenings. When she would make her spinach and ricotta shells, I would drool watching her stuff them!

I have been playing with my own recipe and this one is extremely husband approved! We ate all of it in two days so here is the recipe for you to enjoy it with your family as well.

18 Jumbo Size Pasta Shells

3 Garlic Cloves, Minced

1/2 lb. Ground Beef

3/4 Jar of Pasta Sauce (I generally use Kroger Brand, Parmesan & Romano) 

1 1/4 Tablespoon Olive Oil 

3 Cups Fresh Spinach Leaves 

15 oz. Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese

1 1/4 Cup Shredded Skim Milk Mozzarella Cheese

1/2 Cup Grated Shredded Cheese

1 Large Egg

1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning

2 Tsp Kosher Salt

1 Tsp Black Pepper

*These prices are dependent on your location, taxes and grocery store choice. I shop at Walmart or Ralphs and these prices are based off of the California 8% tax. 

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Cook jumbo shells according to the directions on your box. Drain and set noodles aside. Meanwhile, prepare the ground beef. Drain grease and stir in pasta sauce. Warm up over low heat.

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Toss in minced garlic and stir frequently to prevent burning. Once garlic is a nice, golden brown, begin to prepare your spinach leaves over the garlic. You will only want to keep them in the skillet for 2-3 minutes, with occasional stirring. 

In a medium bowl, prepare the shells stuffing by adding cheeses, egg, seasonings, spinach and garlic. Stir together until thoroughly mixed.

Grease an 8x10 casserole dish with either butter or spray. Lay down a little less than half of your beef pasta sauce in the dish. One by one, stuff each of your cooked jumbo shells with your stuffing. 

Give each a generous amount! Lay them down on top of your sauce.

Spread the remainder of your sauce on top of the shells and sprinkle a little mozzarella or parmesan as well. I added some more pepper and salt on top, but that is optional!

Cover your dish with tinfoil and bake for about 20-25 minutes. If you would like it to be a little darker on top, take off tinfoil after those 25 minutes and bake for another 10 minutes.

This recipe was inspired by many that I have found but is one that I personally experimented with and enjoyed these measurements. When I share recipes, I always encourage people to experiment with different seasonings, ingredients and styles to cater to your own likes or dislikes!
I served this with a Romaine, Caesar Salad and Garlic Toast. One thing that I loved about this meal was not only is it filling but it can last up to six meals for two people!
I hope you enjoyed today's post and take a stab at this recipe! 

[ The total price of this meal was about $9 ]

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