So, if you’ve been reading for a while, or you know me outside of the blogosphere, you’re aware of my dairy issues. For everyone else, I found out I was lactose intolerant and completely gave up all dairy for about two years. Much to my relief (and the hubs as well), after giving it up completely, I have been able to slowly introduce it back into my diet. I’m telling you this because I’m sharing a recipe that I haven’t made since college, for that very reason. In fact, I had forgotten just how much I loved this recipe. How can you not love, it’s is all about cheese; it involves cheese, and then some cheese and then more cheese, topped with cheese.
It’s delicious; you should make it, yesterday.
But anyways, this is a variation (because I have no genuine recollection of what exactly I used to put in this 5 years ago) and it was a very tasty variation. Because I am incapable of using any ingredient without doctoring it, I added a few things to the sauce. This is totally unnecessary, feel free to ignore that step if you like. Now, this is CERTAINLY not a light dinner, I did try to pack it full of veggies and use lower-fat cheeses… mostly… Not that you care how unhealthy it is once you start eating. It is totally worth every calorie. The hubs loved this; probably because it’s a rich, cheesy, Italian dish, and that man loves his Italian food. In fact, he like it so much he didn’t even mention the fact that dinner was completely bereft of any meat and that my friends, is saying something.
Enough talking, here’s the recipe. If you like Italian or cheese, I advise you make it right away!
2 Tbs olive oil
4 oz baby portabella mushrooms
1 small bag fresh baby spinach
3 cloves garlic
1 small container low-fat ricotta
½ c shredded 2% mozzarella
1/3 c shredded parmesan
2/3 box pasta shells
1 jar pasta sauce (I used heart smart and added the things below – totally optional)
1 Tbs olive oil
½ sweet onion, minced
8 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 zucchini, shredded
1/3 c red wine
2 Tbs lemon juice
½ c shredded mozzarella
Bring water to boil in a large pot for the pasta. Cook pasta until al dente, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process (it also makes them easier to handle).
Warm olive oil in a medium sauce pot over medium heat, add onion, tomatoes and zucchini, cook for about 10 minutes. Add the pasta sauce, wine and lemon juice and simmer, stirring occasionally.
While that cooks, sauté the mushrooms with olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat, for about 10 minutes. Add spinach and garlic and continue to sauté until spinach is completely wilted.
Combine spinach-mushroom mixture and ricotta in a food processor, pulse until smooth. Scrape mixture into a bowl and fold in the parmesan and mozzarella.
Pre-heat oven to 350⁰.
Ladle a thin layer of sauce onto the bottom of a 9”x13” glass baking dish. Gently press filling into the pasta shells (I cup the shell with one hand and use a small spoon to fill it) and place in a single layer in the baking dish. Once your shells are filled cover them with the remaining pasta sauce and cheese.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese on the top browns. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.