Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Cheese and Spinach Stuffed Pasta

Each of the three cheeses in this dish brings its own flavor and texture to the shells: creamy, sweet mascarpone; soft, mild mozzarella; and sharp, salty Parmigiano-Reggiano. Combined with earthy spinach, this is one scrumptious shell filling that comes together quickly and easily.

A simple tomato sauce made with canned diced tomatoes, garlic, and flat-leaf parsley is the perfect complement to the stuffed shells.

Serves 4-5

  • olive oil, for oiling dish, plus 3 tbsp, divided
  • 16 jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 14.5-oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 cups chopped spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup diced fresh mozzarella (or shredded)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly oil an 11-x-7-inch baking dish.
  2. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water 10 minutes. Drain and rinse.
  3. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and 1/4 cup parsley and season with salt and pepper. 
  4. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover with the lid slightly ajar, and cook, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Sauce Beginning to Cook

Cooked Sauce
  1. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the shallot and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes.
  2. Add the spinach and wine and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the spinach has wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool 10 minutes.

Shallot in Oil

Spinach Added
  1. Combine the mascarpone, mozzarella, and 1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano in a medium bowl. Add the cooled spinach mixture to the cheese mixture and combine well.
  2. Stuff each pasta shell with about 2 tablespoons of the filling and set snugly side by side in the baking dish.
  3. Spoon the tomato sauce on top of the shells and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake uncovered 30 minutes, until the cheeses have melted and the sauce is bubbly.

Cheeses Ready to Mix

Spinach and Cheese Filling

Stuffed Shells

Ready to Bake
Garnish the shells with chopped parsley, then divide among 4-5 pasta bowls and serve.

Cheese and Spinach Stuffed Pasta


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