Friday, April 8, 2011

Date Night Dinner: Spinach Stuffed Shells

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In my family, stuffed shells were synonymous with family parties and special dinners.  Since they are a lot of work to fill, my family never did them for a normal Sunday night dinner.  But, when family was coming or for Easter or Christmas, stuffed shells were always on the menu. 

Mom and Dad always made half cheese and half ground beef.  But, as I got older I saw that stuffed shells could be made in a variety of ways!  Ricotta was on sale last week so I made a lasagna but had some ricotta left over.  John loves spinach so when chopped frozen spinach was on sale this week, it seemed like the perfect time to make these.

Don't let the stuffing of the shells intimidate you.  It does take a little while, but I make about 30 shells at a time and freeze half for another day.  They stay great and its a perfect quick and easy meal on a night you don't feel like cooking!  Once you get into a stuffing rhythm, they do get filled pretty quickly.
Spinach Stuffed Shells
Serves:  4
1 box of shells
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon italian seasonings
2 cups pasta sauce
1 cup grated italian blend cheeses

First, make the shells according to the package directions. Drain, let cool while you make the filling.  First, squeeze the spinach to remove as much moisture as possible.  Then, to make the filling, combine the ricotta cheese, egg, parmesan cheese, spinach, garlic powder, and italian seasonings.  Mix well.  Make sure the shells are cool enough to handle.  Stuff the shells with the ricotta mixture.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large glass baking dish, spread one cup of pasta sauce to cover the baking dish.  Place the stuffed shells on top of the sauce.  Cover with the rest of the sauce and top with cheese blend.  Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the shells are warmed through. 

This is a great spring dinner that your family is sure to eat up quick!

Until the next time my oven is on...

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