Monday, September 24, 2012

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Monday mornings are rough.

Somehow I'm always tired on Monday mornings. Even when I haven't had a whirlwind weekend. Just something about the start of the work week that makes me tired.

My typically Monday morning consists of planning out the goals for the day (and week), catching up on emails, perusing recently published articles that are sent to my inbox via PubMed alerts and looking through my favorite food blogs (shh, don't tell my boss about the latter one). Then it is time to kick my butt into gear and get into the lab. Making molecules, purifying reactions, etc, etc. You know, getting the normal going. Of course, some Mondays are more productive than others... today, I wasn't having success with my purifications that were on deck today-- a super long distillation and preparative TLC that didn't want to separate my epimers despite my tests last week (no worries if you don't understand those words, just know it has been a long Monday in lab... I'm still here...).

A good Monday night meal might be something like these stuffed shells. Especially if you follow the growing food trend of "Meatless Mondays". Me? I don't really stick to trends; I do meatless whenever I want, but if it was just a Monday thing, stuffed shells would certainly make it into the rotation. Overall, a pretty easy meal to put together; serve them with some garlic parmesan toasts and a side salad and you start out your week healthy and delicious.

Do you celebrate Meatless Mondays? If so, what's your favorite go-to meal?

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells
10-12 jumbo shells
4-5 large handfuls fresh spinach leaves (you can substitute 1 package of frozen, thawed chopped spinach)
1 cup skim milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups of your favorite marinara (homemade or store bought)

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Cook the jumbo shells in boiling water as indicated on the package. When the shells are finished cooking, remove with a slotted spoon to a strainer and rinse with water so they are cool enough to handle. Add the spinach to the hot water in the pan and cook with stirring until wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Drain the spinach and squeeze out as much liquid as you can; coarsely chop the cooked spinach.

Combine the cheeses and nutmeg in a bowl. Add the spinach and mix completely.

Spread about 1/2 cup marinara in the bottom of a baking dish. Working one shell at a time, fill with the spinach and ricotta mixture. Place in the prepared baking dish. Once all the shells are filled, cover with the remaining marinara.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling. Serve hot.

Serves 3-4.

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