Adapted from Pasta Harvest by Janet Fletcher
- ½ pound baby spinach leaves
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ pound whole-milk ricotta cheese
- ½ pound mozzarella cheese, whole- or skim-milk, coarsely grated
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh basil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 20 jumbo pasta shells (it’s a good idea to cook a few extra in case of breakage)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1½ cups Marinara sauce, store-bought or homemade
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375°F. Wash spinach in cold water. Place the spinach in a 10-inch skillet with the rinse-water still clinging to the leaves. Cover and cook over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until the leaves are just wilted. Transfer the spinach to a colander and rinse under cold running water to cool. Drain well and squeeze dry. Chop finely.
Cook pasta shells in a large pot of boiling salted water. Remove and drain when they are about a minute shy of being done. They will continue to cook in the oven. Transfer pasta to a bowl and toss with olive oil to prevent them from sticking together.
Meanwhile, combine the spinach, garlic, ricotta, mozzarella, egg, basil, salt and pepper in a bowl, mixing well.
Put half the tomato sauce on the bottom of a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold the shells in a single layer. Fill each pasta shell with a heaping tablespoon of the filling and arrange them in the baking dish. You should have just enough stuffing to fill 20 shells (really!). Spoon the remaining sauce over and around the shells and top with the Parmesan cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until bubbling hot, 30 – 40 minutes. COOK’S NOTE: When I cooked mine it definitely needed the full 40 minutes. In fact, I thought the filling wasn’t quite hot enough so I might do 50 minutes next time.