I’m back on the blog train, and it feels so good! Going on vacation is SO nice but when you come back to your insane reality it takes a while to come to terms with it and remember how to manage it all. We went to Riviera Maya for my sister’s wedding and it was AH-mazing, my husband and I got a couple’s massage in a cabana overlooking the ocean…I mean, WHO DOES THAT? I don’t think I will ever get an indoor massage ever again because I’ll just be disappointed, which means my next massage will be in approximately 10 years.
Ok, we’re going to make Spinach and Broccoli Stuffed Shells for all you lenters out there! I realized (thanks to Judy Hill) that some of you may be forgoing meat for lent so this is a great time to feature some veggie recipes!
I used to make this dish with just spinach and you definitely still can but I find that the broccoli compliments the spinach well and it’s one of those veggie that kids seems to tolerate. When it’s hidden in the shells they can’t tell the difference anyway.
Here’s what we will need
12 oz (one box) – large pasta shells
1 jar – marinara sauce
10 oz. (one box) – frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
2 cups – finely chopped broccoli florets
1 clove garlic – finely minced
3 cups – part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup – grated Parmesan cheese
7 oz. (one bag) – reduced fat mozzarella cheese
1/2 to 1 tsp – salt
1/4 tsp – freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp – dried oregano
Start boiling a big pot of salted water on the stove and then throw the shells in.
I tried to find whole wheat shells but I couldn’t so I just used the semolina version. You probably won’t need all of them but I just make the whole box because my kids will eat a bunch of them plain while I’m assembling the shells. Cook these for about 7 minutes and then drain them and rinse them with cold water so they don’t stick together. They should be firm, they will cook more in the oven and they will be easier to stuff that way.
For the filling, chop up some broccoli really well (you will need about two cups but this isn’t an exact science).
Throw that into a bowl with the spinach that’s been thawed completely and drained VERY well, this part is annoying but you have to do it. Just use a towel or a cheesecloth if you have one, you can even use paper towels. If you don’t want to use broccoli in the recipe, just substitute in another box of spinach.
Now add the minced garlic, parmesan, ricotta, and the egg…
I usually taste it now to gauge how much salt I need to add, if you are nervous about tasting something with raw egg in it just add 3/4 tsp. salt and call it a day. I’ve been eating raw eggs for years and I’m still alive but that could just be luck I guess.
After you add the salt and pepper, add the oregano and then stir everything together with a wooden spoon.
Now it’s time to fill our shells with this yummy green stuff!
This is very easy to do and I have proof…I showed my husband how to fill one and then I ran out the door to zumba class and tasked him with finishing the job, I’m dead serious. He had to fill them all….
and then he had to cover them in sauce…
and then he had to cover them with the mozzarella cheese…
and then he had to put them in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes…
AND he had to take photos of everything he did! Husband of the year trophy has been ordered and is on its way.
Ok…there’s one teensy weensy thing I probably would have done differently but let’s keep this to ourselves.
I usually put half of the mozzerrella cheese on the shells, and then pour the sauce over, and then add the other half. I just find that it melts better that way, but you may prefer it the husband way and that is fine too!
After 45 minutes in the oven, it’s done!
My kids devour these things, and that’s good enough for me!
Speaking of my kids, I really missed them while we were gone. Before we left, one of our little angels came down with a strep throat/laryngitis/bronchitis combo and another one had an abscessed tooth that he refused to have pulled at the dentist. But we were able to get them on antibiotics and both of them were feeling MUCH better by the time we left for Mexico. Things were smooth sailing (loosely speaking) while we were gone…mayhem didn’t ensue until we returned. It turns out that your kids can be allergic to antibiotics but not break out in head to toe itching hives until they’ve already been taking them for a while. Good news is that the hives didn’t really set in until our plane landed back in Chicago so the nanny was able to save herself from the madness that is inevitable when you have two boys who are itching uncontrollably. I was able to get them in to the doc first thing the next morning and large amounts of steroids were given. Steroids reverse the effects of an allergic reaction pretty quickly…I could write a whole blog on how young boys behave on steroids but we will save that for another time.
I hope you guys enjoy this recipe, and to all you parents out there dealing with an adolescent boy on steroids…godspeed.
The Good Cooker