Any vegetarian pasta dish is good enough for me any time, any day, but this pasta shells filled with ricotta and spinach one, to me and my whole family, is comfort food at its very best! And I'm so sure you totally agree.
In a cold winter day and not only it’s something that anyone would need for comfort, a nice pasta dish like this one.
I did not grow up eating a lot of pasta. The only pasta that I remember having as a kid and my mum or grandmas were making was a sweet option for breakfast boiled in milk which was lovely - very similar to a rice pudding with pasta instead. The pasta used in that was usually a smaller one such as angel hair or tiny mini little shapes. I’m also making it for my kids every now and again and they love it. they actually ask for it.
The other pasta I remember having as a kid was one that was my dad’s speciality which was a dessert or breakfast if any leftovers - a macaroni with sugar and sheep cheese or macaroni with walnuts- it was to die for.
He used to put some vanilla or lemon zest into the cheese version and it was always a treat for us the kids. I miss those days I have to say with nostalgia but at the same time with a little sense of melancholy. Melancholy because it reminds me how many years have passed and that all my grannies have all sadly gone ;-( and are hanging around with the angels. This is life I suppose.
Let me get to the more cheerful bits now and going back to these childhood dishes, I am thinking that I might actually put those recipes up on my blog one day as I think many would actually love them - you never know?
Getting back to this beautiful savoury filled pasta shells, the outcome is magnificent indeed and truly yummy, it’s pretty similar to a cannelloni one or even a vegetarian lasagna.
I’m not sure how you feel but for me, a good pasta dish is signed by the pasta used. The pasta that I'm using, the shape of it it's what really does it for me. I’m strange I know, I was told this many times before, so I am well aware of it - haha.
The ricotta cheese and the spinach combination is another one of those combos to really enjoy to the max.
If you liked this dish you may also like this salmon and pasta dish or this spiralized zucchini pasta dish or even this macaroni pasta with ground walnuts and cardamom a sweet pasta version dish that goes very well with kids and makes a beautiful breakfast. All delicious pasta recipes to enjoy with your family and friends.
But here it comes the recipe 😉
Pasta shells filled with spinach and ricotta cheese
- 1 pack pasta shells
- 300 g ricotta cheese
- 200 g spinach (fresh)
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg (freshly ground)
- 1/4 tsp black pepper (freshly ground)
- 270 g cheese (mixed, grated; cheddar and mozzarella)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 400 g tomato sauce (passata) *
- 1 tsp Italian herbs
- 3-4 tbsp Parmesan cheese (to sprinkle when serving)
- Cook the pasta for about 5 min until the shells are becoming bigger and easy to fill. I would recommend to cook them halfway so if the pack says 10 min you cook them for 4-5 min. Keep an eye on those so they are not overly cooked. (See recipe notes for some tips)
- Wash the spinach and cook for 2 minutes in a frying pan with a sprinkle of water or milk if you want, a pinch of salt, one of pepper and some freshly ground nutmeg. When finish turn heat off and set aside to cool.
- In a separate bowl mix the ricotta cheese with 3/4 (180g) of the grated cheese, another pinch of nutmeg and add the spinach. Mix well. Season if necessary.
- Preheat oven at 180C or 350F.
- Prepare the baking dish (20cm x 30cm) and start by spooning half of the tomato sauce as a first layer at the bottom of the dish. Fill the shells with roughly about a tbsp of cheese and spinach mixture until you have finished all shells and the cheese.
- Arrange all filled shells over the tomato sauce in one layer. Place them pretty close to each other and squeeze some extra in between if necessary. Spoon over the shells the remaining tomato sauce.
- Place the dish in the preheated oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 180C 350F.
- Halfway through, take the dish out and sprinkle the remaining (90g or add more if you wish) of the grated cheese. Place back in the oven and bake till nice and golden brown.
- When finish baking take out of the oven and serve with a light sprinkle of Parmesan on top. Enjoy!!