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