The most challenging part of this recipe might be laying hands on the large shells in the grocery store. I usually have good luck at my local Krogers.
The second challenge is locating the mascarpone cheese. Hunt for it in the deli section, not where the more common Cheddar and Mozzarella hang out.
Once you’ve gathered the ingredients, assembling this dish is simple. Less complicated than lasagna in my book.
The easiest part, of course, is eating it. With gooey cheese, flavorful spinach and mushrooms, and pasta shells bathed in your favorite marinara, who can resist?
I make these without meat although some chicken or Italian sausage would certainly pump up the protein numbers and expand the flavor profile. Leave out the spinach and mushrooms if they aren’t your favorite. Then you could call them 4-Cheese Stuffed Shells.
Speaking of the cheese, I incorporated homemade ricotta cheese, but only because I have a lot of it in the house at the moment. I’m currently experimenting with making ricotta using the whey from Greek yogurt. I’ll tell you all about it in my next post. Meanwhile, store-bought ricotta works fine.
This dish is happy to be frozen after baking. Individual portions are quickly microwaved for an instant dinner.
- ½ box Jumbo Shells
- ½ tablespoon butter
- 4 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped
- 6 ounces fresh baby spinach (small bag)
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1-1/3 cup ricotta cheese
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
- 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, shredded and divided
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 24 ounce jar marinara or spaghetti sauce
- 2 tablespoons water
- Cook shells in boiling water for 9 minutes. Stir several times to keep them from sticking to the bottom. Drain and place on a cookie sheet to cool.
- Meanwhile, melt butter in large skillet and add mushrooms. Saute until browned. Remove from pan to medium mixing bowl. Add spinach and garlic to hot skillet and saute until wilted. Drain well in a colander, pressing with the back of a spoon to remove as much moisture as possible. Chop and add to mushrooms.
- Combine ricotta, mascarpone, half of Parmesan, and half of Mozzarella with spinach and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.
- Fill each shell with spinach and mushroom and cheese mixture.
- Add water to half of prepared sauce and pour it into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch dish. Place shells on top of the sauce, open side up.
- Pour remaining sauce over the top of the shells. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and Parmesan over shells
- Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.