Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Remember how I said I was going to make more vegetarian food?  Here’s a doozy.

When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to made it. Stuffed shells sound and seem like a fancy meal, but they are actually quite easy. Shells are quite forgiving. Even if you tear one, you can just stuff it with some delicious filling and bake away – no one will even notice! And although this is a special-looking dish, it is easy enough to make any night of the week, rounded out with a nice salad.

Adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon

approximately 25 jumbo pasta shells

2 Tbls olive oil 0-1

1 1/2 cup marinara sauce

1/3 cup Parmesan, grated

1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, washed and torn into pieces

2 cups part-skim ricotta

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 shallot, minced

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tablespoon basil, minced

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour marinara into the bottom of a 8 x 8 pan.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt, pasta and stir. Cook the pasta until al dente, according to box instructions. Drain pasta and toss with olive oil while still warm.

In a large bowl, mix ricotta, egg, shallot, basil, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Using a spoon, scoop a small about (about a Tablespoon) into each shell, then place shell into the baking dish, on top of sauce. Top with parmesan cheese.

Lightly spray a piece of aluminum foil large enough to cover baking pan. Cover pan with sprayed side down, facing the shells. Tightly cover the pan and bake for 20 minutes. Then, remove foil and continue to bake for approximately 5 more minutes or until parmesan bubbles. Remove from oven and let set for at least 5 minutes before serving.

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Tomato Skillet Chicken

I love meals you can make in a skillet.  They are usually quick and simple, so they are great for those days you don’t feel like working hard to make a good meal.  This recipe is especially nice because I utilized lean meat (chicken) and brown rice with vegetables – so it is good for you too!

Skillet chicken

Although this is a skillet recipe, you cannot just throw everything in at once.  There is a special order that makes the meal work.  I have outlined the steps below to make it even easier.  It usually takes 30-40 minutes to make, depending on your rice.  You can also marinate the chicken for longer if you prefer, I simply didn’t have time to leave it set overnight.  It is easy to personalize this dish as well.  You could easily swap out a different type of meat or a different type of vegetable.

Approximately 1 lb of chicken strips of breast (usually 2-4)

1/4 cup of balsamic vinaigrette

1 Tablespoon of oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 (14 oz) can of diced tomatoes

3/4 cup of brown rice

1 cup of water

1 Tablespoon fresh cut basil

1/4 cup of grated low-fat swiss or mozzarella cheese

Step 1: Place chicken in a plastic bag with vinaigrette.  Let marinate in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Step 2: Warm oil in a large skillet or saucepan.  Cook marinated chicken in the pan.  The pan should seem too large for the chicken.  It’s ok, there is a reason for this.  Place chicken to the side when it is fully cooked.

Step 3: Place garlic and canned tomatoes (juice and all) in the pan.  It’s alright if there is still some drippings from the chicken.  That makes it more delicious! Cook until fragrant.  This should only take a minute.  Add rice and water.  Bring to a boil.  Then, add basil and reduce to a simmer.  Cook and let rice absorb the liquid.  This will take a different amount of time, depending on the type of the rice you have. Mine took about 30 minutes.

Step 4: When rice is nearly done, uncover and add chicken.  Sprinkle cheese over top and let melt.  Serve and enjoy!