Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

(adapted from Fabulously Frugal.com)

·        1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
·        1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
·        1/2 teaspoon dried basil
·        1/4 teaspoon salt
·        1/4 teaspoon pepper
·        1 teaspoon sugar

Filling & Shells:
·        24 jumbo pasta shells (about 3/4 of 12-ounce box)
·        16 ounces cottage cheese (about 2 cups)
·        15 ounces ricotta cheese (about 2 cups)
·        1/2 teaspoon salt
·        1/4 teaspoon pepper
·        1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
·        1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
·        1/2 teaspoon dried basil
·        10 ounces frozen, chopped spinach, thawed, excess liquid squeezed out
·        1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
·        6 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese, plus extra for topping

1. For the sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat.
2. While the sauce simmers, in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta shells al dente according to package directions. Drain and immediately place them in an even layer on paper towels or parchment.
3. For the filling, in a large bowl, stir together the cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, salt, pepper, parsley, oregano and basil. Add the spinach and mix until combined. Stir in the Parmesan and mozzarella.
4. Lightly grease your pan(s) with cooking spray and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
5. Spoon about half of the sauce on the bottom of the prepared pan(s) and spread evenly. Fill each pasta shell with an even amount of the filling (a little less than 1/4 cup per shell) and place the shells on top of the sauce in the pan. Pour the remaining sauce evenly over the top of the shells. 
6. Freeze or bake right away. 

To bake:
Cover with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes. Uncover and bake for about 5 more minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let the shells sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

Preparing for the Freezer:
Before baking, cover with a layer of plastic wrap, then a layer of foil. Label and freeze. Freeze for up to 1 month.

Prepare after Freezing:
Remove plastic wrap and replace the foil cover. To bake from frozen, preheat oven to 350 and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake uncovered for 15-30 more minutes, until bubbly and warmed through.

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