Aug 21, 2011

spinach stuffed shells

One of my favorite things in the world is making dinner with friends. There's nothing like getting together on a beautiful evening to drink wine, gossip, and create something simply delicious as a group. I honestly think the meal tastes better when the effort is shared through hard work, and lots of laughter. Tonight happened to be one of those evenings when Michael, Jenna, and I got together to watch the newest episode of True Blood, and make spinach stuffed shells over a few bottles of cheap white wine. Nothing could possibly make me happier :)

Here's Michael & Jenna slaving away over my stuffed shells. You can tell they're good cooks 'cause of the pouffy hats and curly mustaches.
Stuff you need: 1. Pasta shells 2. Ricotta cheese- 1 15 oz tub 3. Parmesan cheese 4. Fresh spinach 5. Fresh basil 6. 2 jars red pasta sauce of your choice 7. Garlic

First and foremost, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and crack open that first bottle of wine- making stuffed shells is a slightly long and tedious task, but trust me, it's totally worth it in the end. When the water comes to a rolling boil, throw in your shells with some salt, and cook them until they're al dente.

While you're waiting for your noodles to soften, sauté the spinach and diced garlic in a little bit of olive oil, until the leaves are nice and wilted. Combine the spinach, ricotta, parmesan, and chopped basil in a bowl, and mix it all up with some fresh ground black pepper. We kept things simple with spinach and cheese, but other veggies or faux sausage might also be a nice addition to the stuffing mixture as well.

When the noodles are softened, drain them, and rinse them under cold water. Be warned. If you skip the cold water step, you will burn your hands off. TRUE STORY.

Take the shells, stuff them with the cheese mixture, and place them into a baking dish that has a layer of the pasta sauce on the bottom. Keep filling up the shells until you're out of supplies, and then cover the whole dish with another layer of pasta sauce. Pop the pan into the oven for around 20-30 minutes, or until it's warmed through and bubbly. Pull out the pasta, give it a good sprinkle of parmesan, and put it back into the oven for a final 5 minutes. When you can stand it no longer, serve up those shells and dig in!
Oh my, look how delicious those little cheese pockets look before and after getting baked into gooey deliciousness. For time management and calorie intake, it's definitely not a meal I would make all the time, but if you'd like to show off a bit, or celebrate a special occasion, this is just the dish! And let's be honest, anything cooked in mass amounts of pasta sauce and cheese has to be outrageously delicious, right? RIGHT.

Great food, great True Blood, great friends, great night.♥

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