Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Pasta

I've adapted my lasagna recipe to work for stuffed shells or manicotti. The main downside to making this recipe is that there are no whole grain large shells or manicotti, so you're stuck with white flour pasta. For variety's sake, I'll make this every once in a while, but normally, I stick to lasagna, which I can make in whole grain form. Of course, the other downside to this recipe is that it's impossibly difficult and time-consuming to fill manicotti, and even shells.

With that said, it's still a tasty dish.

Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Pasta
1 box jumbo shells or manicotti
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
28 oz. canned crushed tomatoes
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup lowfat ricotta
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
salt & pepper, to taste
4 oz. lowfat mozzarella, shredded

Boil the pasta in water, according to package directions. Better to keep them a little extra al dente, since they will cook a bit more in the oven. Drain.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a saucepan, heat the oil, and then add the garlic and onion. Cook over medium heat until the onion is soft. Add the crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Simmer the sauce over low heat for at least 15 minutes.

In a bowl, mix together spinach, ricotta, parmesan, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

In a 13x9 glass baking dish, spoon a very thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom. Stuff pasta with the ricotta mixture and lay in a single layer in the baking dish. Top each piece of pasta with a good dollop of tomato sauce. Sprinkle mozzarella over the sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Serve with extra sauce.

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