SPINACH & FETA STUFFED SHELLS
- 20 jumbo (uncooked) pasta shells
- 3 cups pasta sauce
- 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 scallions, finely sliced
For the Filling:
- 10 ounces baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 2-3 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup (8 ounces) full fat ricotta cheese
- 8 ounces feta cheese
- 1 teaspoon dried dill
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 2 eggs, beaten
For the Béchamel Sauce:
- 2 cups whole milk, warmed
- ¼ cup olive oil or melted butter
- ¼ all-purpose flour
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 whole egg
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup shredded parmesan or gruyere cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400 °F, 200 °C.
- Cook the pasta shells in boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water so that the shells don’t stick together and to stop the cooking process.
- To make the spinach filling: Warm the olive oil along with the garlic clove over medium heat for a few seconds or just until the garlic releases its aroma. Take care not to burn it or it will become extremely bitter.
- Add the chopped spinach and cook just until it wilts, stirring often.
- Place the wilted spinach in a large mixing bowl. Add the ricotta cheese, crumble the feta into the bowl, add the dill, and season with some black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Taste and add salt if needed. Mix in the beaten eggs and set aside.
- To make the Béchamel sauce: Combine the flour and oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk well while cooking a few minutes until toasted.
- Slowly add the milk in and whisk well to incorporate so that it is smooth and creamy.
- Cook until it comes to a boil and thickens. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove from heat.
- Whisk the eggs together in a bowl. Add some of the hot milk mixture into the eggs and whisk to temper them so that they don't scramble when added to the cream sauce.
- Add the eggs to the sauce and whisk well.
- Add the parmesan (Gruyere) cheese and mix to combine.
- To assemble everything:Pour a layer of tomato sauce in a 9 by 13-inch baking pan.
- Stuff the shells with the spinach filling and arrange the shells over the sauce.
- Pour some béchamel sauce over the shells and top with shredded mozzarella cheese and cover with aluminum foil.
- Bake the tray of stuffed shells (on the middle oven rack) covered with foil for 25-30 minutes, then uncover and bake until the cheese is golden by turning the broiler element on for the last 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it so that they don’t burn.
- Garnish the stuffed shells with some sliced scallions and serve. Enjoy!
- Make Ahead Freezer Instructions:
- Thaw the tray of shells overnight in the refrigerator then bake as usual. If they are not thawed overnight, place them in the oven while it is still cold and allow them to warm through slowly while the oven is pre-heating. It will take about 15-20 minutes longer for the shells to cook.
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