Spinach, Ricotta and Feta Stuffed Shells
These warm, gooey spinach, ricotta and feta stuffed shells were devoured for dinner today. I’ve been looking forward to this very week since Christmas. And half of it is already over. One week of winter break doesn’t seem enough- then again, no amount of vacation seems enough. A normal day for me starts at 7 and ends at 12. I’m at school till 6 on most days, then when I come home, I do my homework and all that routine stuff.
So when vacation does come around, I relax. Relaxation varies depending on the person. Since forever, I’ve always had to do something. So for me, relaxing usually means engaging in some sort of an activity- be it cooking or watching TV- but not doing anything related to school. My mom thinks I can’t relax, and it may seem that way, but cooking is therapeutic. I have a conversation with myself when I cook, which is oddly enjoyable.
I guess it’s a win-win situation, because my mom doesn’t have to enter the kitchen when I have holidays. So she gets to relax and so do I. I’ve been seeing a lot of photographs of stuffed shells lately and when I went to the grocery store, I found a huge pack of giant shells on sale. I think it was some sort of a sign telling me to make them, so I did.
The combination of a creamy spinach filling and pasta go hand in hand. In this recipe, there’s a tang from the feta, a creamy texture from the ricotta and a spicy aroma from the nutmeg. A fresh tomato sauce balances the creamy spinach mixture perfectly and then of course, a sprinkling of parmesan is the cherry on top. The filling for this recipe is almost identical to the one used to make my Spinach, Ricotta and Feta pie- but there are some things adjusted to create somewhat of an Italian flavor.
I made an effort to use fresh vegetables for this recipe because if you can make it healthy, why not? For the marinara sauce, you could easily buy a store bought can or use canned tomatoes- but when you have the real stuff, it’s always better. I also used fresh spinach, which may have taken slightly longer to prepare than using thawing frozen, chopped spinach. But fresh ingredients added a freshness to it, plus I felt like I was eating healthy.
This recipe for stuffed shells is very simple to make and depending on how fast your work in the kitchen, it’s fairly quick to put together as well- not to mention, it’s vegetarian! It was certainly a favorite at our house- we ate it for lunch, dinner and tomorrow, we’ll devour it for breakfast.
- 15-20 jumbo shells
- 2 large, fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 3/4 cup passata or tomato purée
- 1/2 tbsp dried basil (or fresh if available)
- 1 tsp dried oregano (or fresh if available)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 250 g fresh baby spinach, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 200g ricotta cheese
- 150 g feta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375 F or 200 C.
- Boil the jumbo shells according to package instructions- then drain and keep ready.
- In a small saucepan, sauté 1/2 of the crushed garlic in olive oil.
- When it is fragrant, add the chopped tomatoes and passata. Simmer for 15 minutes covered.
- Season with salt, pepper, basil, oregano and 1/2 the chilli flakes and set aside.
- In the meantime, sauté the rest of the garlic and the onion in some olive oil. When the onions are translucent, add the spinach and cook until it has wilted. Turn off the heat and let it cool.
- In a medium sized bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, nutmeg and remaining chilli flakes. Whisk until smooth.
- Add in the feta and parmesan and season with salt and pepper according to taste.
- Finally, add the spinach and onion mixture and gently incorporate.
- Grease a dish with olive oil. Spread 1/2 of the sauce on the bottom.
- Take each shell and fill with around 2 tbsp of the mixture. Arrange mixture-side up on the sauce.
- Cover all the shells with the remaining sauce.
- Cover the pan with aluminium foil and bake for 20 minutes. Then uncover and bake for 10 more minutes.
- Sprinkle with more parmesan before serving.
You might also like to try out my Ricotta, Feta and Spinach pie:
Or for something simpler, maybe a light and creamy Spinach Pasta?