Pasta and me are BFF’s. I really don’t think I could go without carbs; I love pasta and bread far too much. Fresh croissants with pasta, even better. Hubs on the other hand is not much of a pasta fan; he’s a meat and potato and other worldly cuisine type. I love all that too but not a pasta fan? Absurd! Paired with a cheesy spinach filling, yes, yes and more yes!
Some people turn their nose up at spinach but it’s a favourite in my house. My kids actually prefer spinach salads over any other lettuce; add in fresh fruit, nuts and a homemade creamy poppy seed dressing and the blend of flavours make a lighter meal or side for any occasion. I can’t help but think of Popeye whenever I have spinach. Maybe I’m showing my age; Sweet Pea, Olive Oyl and Brutus, anyone?
I know it’s convenient to use purchased jarred pasta sauce but making your own really isn’t that hard; it’s actually quite easy and in my opinion worth the extra few minutes.
My mixer makes another appearance; I think green looks good on it’s sexy self.
Stuffing the shells can be a pain, the key is not to overcook the pasta, always add a little salt and oil to the water when cooking and after draining let the cooked noodles sit in a cold water bath for a few minutes. I wait until they are cold before trying to stuff them. Be gentle.
Before placing the stuffed shells in the baking dish, make sure to pour a little sauce covering the bottom to avoid the pasta sticking to the dish. I cooked mine in a smaller dish for presentation reasons so I had a little extra sauce. This recipe should make enough for the whole 250 g box of jumbo pasta shells.
More cheese and more sauce, yes please.
- 1 250 g package of Jumbo Pasta Shells
- 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
- 1 can tomato paste
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1½ cups onions, chopped
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Juice of 1 lime, or tbsp of lime juice
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp dried parsley
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 500 g cottage cheese
- 125 g cream cheese (half a 250 g block)
- 1 medium bunch of fresh spinach, chopped
- ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- In a large pot, cook shells as per instructions on package.
- Sauce: In a large saucepan sauté onions and garlic until tender in oil. Add canned tomatoes, paste, oregano, parsley and pepper stirring until mixed well. Add bay leaves and let simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.
- Filling: In a mixer or using a hand blender, blend cream cheese and cottage cheese together. Add in remaining ingredients until mixed through, holding back ½ cup cheddar cheese for the top before baking.
- remove bay leaves and set aside; pour a layer of sauce in the bottom of a 9"x13" baking dish.
- Gently stuff each shell with filling, approximately 1 tbsp per shell, and place in the baking dish side by side until all have been stuffed and placed in the dish.
- Cover with sauce and remaining cheddar cheese and bake covered (I use parchment paper because it doesn't stick to the cheese as much) at 350 degrees F. for 15 minutes.
- Uncover and continue to bake for another 15 minutes or until cheese is browned.
- Serve hot with garlic bread or croissants.
You can use frozen spinach, 2 packages drained, in place of fresh spinach. 1 tsp garlic powder in place of cloves for the sauce (1/2 tsp for the filling) and 1 tbsp of dried parsley in place of fresh for the filling if you prefer.
For more yummy spinach recipes, try these: Spinach and Fruit Salad, Spinach Salad Bites, Strawberry Spinach Salad, Spinach & Goat Cheese Quesadillas, Spinach and Cheese Egg Muffins; Spinach Mushroom Crepes.