Monday, February 28, 2011

Spinach and Ricotta Conchiglie -- Stuffed Shells

So good to be back! We had a huge ice storm last week and were out of power for about 4 days, thank goodness we have a small generator so we were able to heat our house, power the fridge and basement freezer, and have a light or two on, but no TV or computer so that was an adjustment. We opened up the curtains, enjoyed the beautiful sun shining on all of the ice and the kids and I played a ton of board games. No oven = no baking :( To make dinners we turned off the furnace for an hour or so (so we had enough power from the generator to use small kitchen appliances) and plugged in the griddle and had 'breakfast for dinner' one night, the other night we used the presto pizza pizzazz to cook a pizza, and the last night fired up the electric wok for some teriyaki noodles -- all cooked by candlelight since the generator could only power one kitchen appliance and the fridge at once. What a week, it almost was kind of fun, I know the kids had a blast, but I'm glad things are back to normal!

On to this dish, Spinach and Ricotta Conchiglie is my pick for My Kitchen My World -- Destination Italy. This recipe is from the cookbook, Pasta - irresistible recipes for perfect pasta, that I've had for years and only made one recipe from. The one recipe I tried was Macaroni and Blue Cheese -- I had completely forgotten I made that recipe -- but I had written down the date that I made it in the cookbook (what I used to do before starting a food blog), October 2006, and when I read that date, I remembered how my daughter -- who was 18 months old at the time -- loved the Macaroni and Blue Cheese just as much as mommy did, even though daddy was not a fan. It made me smile back then, thinking I may have a lil' foodie on my hands, and now that memory makes me smile even more. I love stuffed pasta shells and was happy to give this version a try. The photo in the book is so enticing, I love the addition of pine nuts sprinkled on top.

Spinach and Ricotta Conchiglie
slightly adapted from Pasta - irresistible recipes for perfect pasta

12 ounces large conchiglie (pasta shells)
1 and 3/4 cups strained tomatoes
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 thick slices white bread, crumbled
1/2 cup milk -- I used skim
3 tablespoons olive oil
9 ounces ricotta cheese -- about 1 and 1/4 cup
pinch of grated nutmeg
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling
salt and ground black pepper to taste

1. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water according to the directions on the package. Rinse under cold water, drain, and reserve until needed.

2. Place the bread, milk, and three tablespoons of olive oil into the bowl of a food processor or blender and process to combine. Add the spinach and ricotta cheese and season with salt (about 1/2 tsp kosher), pepper, and nutmeg (about 1/4 teaspoon).

3. Combine the strained tomatoes with the garlic and remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Spread the sauce evenly over the bottom of a casserole -- I used a 9 by 13 pyrex glass baking dish.

4. Spoon the spinach mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large, plain tip and fill the pasta shapes (I used a ziplock bag with the corner cut off, worked great).

5. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the top and grate some parmesan over the top, then bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the nuts and cheese have turned a light golden brown.

Buen Appetito! -- Enjoy your meal! Sorry for the lack of good photos on this one, I'm going to have to blame bad evening lighting :) This dish was great, it was pretty heavy on the spinach though, so make sure who ever you are serving this to is a spinach fan. To serve, I spooned some of the strained tomato sauce over the shells. I have a favorite non-traditional stuffed shells dish I make that has lots of cheese (mozzarella, parmesan, and ricotta stuffed into the shells) and then is blanketed with sauteed mushrooms, homemade tomato sauce, and mozzarella before baking in the oven and I think that one is still my favorite. It was fun to try a more traditional Italian version of one of my favorite Italian-American dishes, and conchiglie is much more fun to say than plain 'ol stuffed shells. I did love the pine nuts on top and will have to incorporate those into my usual recipe :)

I had a lot of fun picking an Italian recipe to try (originally wanted to do a whole meal, but with the outage didn't have time to get it to it) and I have three *must make* Italian recipes from some of my cookbooks that are completely new to me, two breads, one dessert, so hopefully you'll be seeing those up here soon at Nummy Kitchen. Having the power outage meant lots of time for browsing through my cookbook collection, among other things, so I have a whole bunch of recipes mentally bookmarked that I have had on my shelf for years and never noticed before, kind of reminds me of time before the internet and before a quick jump on google or foodnetwork made it so easy to find a recipe that you actually had to page through a cookbook, miss those days.

I'm sending this dish along to Ruth at Once Upon A Feast, who is the creator of Presto Pasta Nights and hosting a 4th Birthday Bash for PPN #203, how fun!


Trisha said...

We make stuffed shells / manicotti every few months, but the addition of pine nuts and the way you didn't smother with sauce until serving intrigued me. I will try this out this week! Thanks. :)

Ruth Daniels said...

That's quite the adventure! I'm glad it's over. I love your very party dish of stuffed shells. Thanks so much for bringing it to the big 4th Presto Pasta Night birtdhay bash. I do hope your friends join in the fun too... we're giving away a "pasta present" so some lucky person. See you at the roundup on Friday

joannabug said...

Those shells look amazing! And I like the idea of filling them with a pastry bag.

Krista Jorstad said...

I'm glad you survived the storm, it sounds pretty epic! and yet you kept on cookin. this dish looks delicious, and I haven't thought about making stuffed shells in a while... thanks for the flashbacks!


Anonymous said...

hi, dropped in from Ruth's blog. Your pasta dish looks so awsm and I am a pasta lover and these shells looks fabulous ..
I don't know how you managed 4 days without power .. I am glad it's back to normal for you.

Claudia said...

Camping out in the winter! Sounds like fun. Not. But, your dish is beautiful, and sounds really as good as it looks. I'm going right out to get some of those shells.

Small Burst said...

Just the recipe I was looking for. Thanks for this. I'm making this for dinner tonight.

Andrea at Nummy Kitchen said...

Small Burst,

Thanks for the comment! I hope you like these :)

Take care,

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