We also have a wonderful teacher at our religious school whose husband had a heart attack a few weeks ago. Fortunately, he is on the road to recovery and is young, so his prognosis is very good. In light of the craziness of her having to run around to take care of the kids and their needs plus helping her husband recover, a number of women at our temple have been providing meals for them a couple of times a week.
Tomorrow is my delivery day, so tonight I prepared a make ahead meal that should please anyone. It's comfort food combined with the ease of just heating it up in the oven when you are ready to get dinner on the table. Something about cheesy stuffed shells makes me think of healing food... that and chicken soup, but it's getting a bit warm here (finally!) for soup.
Pairing this pasta dish with a nice, big green salad makes it a full meal on it's own. I love adding in the chopped spinach to this kind of meal to incorporate another veggie... it's not even noticeable (except for the color) so, you can get it past any kids who have an aversion to spinach. It seems that My Boys prefer their spinach hiding inside of other dishes... something about eating leaves bothers My Oldest (although My Youngest is a HUGE salad eater, and I'm very happy about that).
Next time you want to have an easy dinner for a crazy, busy night or you have a family who might enjoy a surprise meal brought over to them... prep this dish a day or 2 ahead and keep in the fridge... otherwise, you could freeze it and allow it to defrost all day in the fridge until its time to bake it in the oven. I'd suggest baking it longer if you do freeze to ensure that it's fully heated through.
Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Shells
- 2 cups prepared marinara sauce
- 15 ounces fat-free ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
- 1 large egg
- 24 cooked jumbo pasta shells, drained and slightly cooled
- 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Spread 1 cup of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan.
- Combine ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, oregano, basil and chopped spinach in a bowl. Mix thoroughly (I use an electric hand mixer to make it very smooth).
- Holding one shell in your hand at a time, fill each shell with approximately 1-2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture. Place each shell in the prepared baking pan.
- Pour remaining marinara sauce over the top, then sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top.
- Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake an additional 5 minutes.
Please note that all photos and content belong to Patsy Kreitman, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use something please ask first.