Mama shells with baby shell cheesy chard stuffing
The theme this week is Mamas and Babies! These jumbo shells are stuffed with the typical cheeses, but also Swiss chard and baby shells! I often think stuffed shells are heavy on cheese and light on pasta, so I was excited to try this recipe from EveryDay with Rachel Ray. I only modified it to use chard in place of spinach, and some Everblossom tomatoes I still had in the freezer from last season.
Many recipes will call for frozen spinach. To help me deal with fitting everything in my fridge, I try to chop, cook, squeeze out the liquid and freeze chard in advance. Then, when I need it for a recipe, I thaw it out and weigh out how much I need. Chard and spinach are interchangeable to me.
Once you have chopped and cooked chard at hand, adding it to soups, meatloaf and pasta is easy.
1 pound jumbo “mama” pasta shells (16 pieces)
1 cup (4 ounces) baby pasta shells
6 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon herbs de provence*
Salt and pepper
1/2 pound thawed frozen spinach, squeezed to remove excess liquid
1 1/2 cups ricotta (about 12 ounces)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1. Preheat the broiler. In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the jumbo shells until al dente (about 9 mins). In a smaller saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the baby shells until al dente. Drain separately, reserving 3/4 cup of pasta cooking water. Spread the jumbo shells out on a work surface.
2. In a large ovenproof baking dish, toss the tomatoes with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Broil for 15 minutes. Remove, then stir in garlic, herbs and 1/2 cup reserved pasta water; season with salt and pepper. Lower the oven to 350 degrees.
3. In a bowl, toss the baby shells with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Stir in the spinach, ricotta, 1/4 cup parmesan, remaining 1/4 cup pasta water; season. Stuff the jumbo shells with the spinach mixture; arrange in the dish atop the sauce. Top with the remaining parmesan, cover and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes.
* herbs de provence = equal parts dried thyme, tarragon, rosemary and oregano.
Serves 4 – 6