I knew I really wanted Stuffed Pasta Shells the other evening. That was probably the only thing I've been sure of in the last few weeks. I've been feeling twisted and torn in many directions as of late. My daughter has decided she is going to try out for cheerleading for next year. Translation: If she makes the team, it's an 11 month stretch of hers and my time.
All the girls at the gym last night were anxiety ridden over the thought of the upcoming tryouts. I have to admit I am too, but for completely different reasons. I've finally carved out one or two evenings a week for myself and I would have to give those up if she makes the team. I'm also torn because she will be 16 this summer. I'm just not quite ready to hand over the car keys to her.
When my oldest was 16 she had her license and was ready to go. She was also the kid who did all her homework without being asked, had a healthy dose of fear and was home when she was supposed to be. My younger daughter is the complete opposite and she posses no fear. Having no fear serves her well when she hurls herself in the air to do a back flip. That same lack of reservations could have dire consequences behind the wheel.
My stomach has been in knots, I needed some pasta and cheese to settle things down.
Stuffed Pasta Shells
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 ounces chopped pancetta
1 small bag fresh spinach
12 ounces (1 box) jumbo shells, cooked and drained
15 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 quart marinara sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
1) Heat a skillet to medium-high heat and add the olive oil and pancetta, cook for a few minutes until pancetta is starting to brown. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool.
2) Boil the shells in salted water until almost cooked about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
3) In a bowl combine, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, salt, black pepper, and oregano. Squeeze the water out of the spinach mixture and add it to the cheeses and mix until combined.
4) Spread a small amount of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking dish and stuff each shell with a large tablespoon of the cheese mixture and lay the filled shells on the sauce. I find the easiest way to stuff the shells is with my hands. Pour the rest of the sauce over the filled shells.
p.s. I still have Marinara Sauce that I made this summer, but feel free to use a jar of store bought.
p.p.s. or is that p.s.s. or perhaps p.m.s.? Don't be p.o.'ed (I think I have an acronym problem) I have marinara sauce in my pantry. If you invite me over in the late summer for a drink I can hook you up.
5) Cover the pan with foil and bake for 40-45 minutes until the cheese is melted.
If you want to get ahead you can make the filling the night before or even boil the shells and store both in the fridge and then stuff them right before baking.
I'm just not sure if I can handle that driver's ed car pulling up to my house again. My hairdresser is having a hard enough time handling all the gray I have now. Am I over thinking this here?
You should probably just make the shells they are delicious and uncomplicated; unlike my life at the moment.
Wishing a Very Happy Birthday to Patty - Patty's Food, and Catherine - Living The Gourmet today. Hoping there is lots of cake and good cheer coming their way.