Spinach and ricotta stuffed pasta shells

These pasta shells are stuffed with a herby spinach and ricotta mix and laid on a bed of homemade, slow cooked tomato sauce. It’s honestly so full of flavour and delicious. The pasta shells were a little hard to source, but I found them on Ocado here. You can also try Italian delis.

If you are short of time, or feeling lazy, you can substitute the homemade tomato sauce for a jarred alternative from the supermarket. I personally prefer the homemade sauce as the flavours in my recipe are amazing, you get a really lovely rich tomato sauce. You can also batch cook it (double/triple the quantities) and freeze portions to use later, the sauce freezes really well.

Ingredients:
Serves 2

For the homemade tomato sauce:
(Note: if you are short of time, you can use 400g of jarred tomato pasta sauce instead)

  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • handful of fresh basil (at least 10-15 leaves but the more the better!), roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon white or red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 50ml red wine (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree

For the pasta shells:

  • 15-20 pasta shells
  • 250g ricotta
  • 200g spinach leaves
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 125g mozzarella
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Method:

  1. First, make your slow cooked tomato sauce (if making, if you are going to use a jarred tomato sauce, skip step one). Place your olive oil in a saucepan with a lid on a low heat, then add all your ingredients and stir. Leave to simmer on a low heat for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. Pre heat your oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Boil your pasta shells so they are cooked al dente, you’ll want to boil them for roughly 6-7 minutes.
  3. Prepare your ricotta spinach mixture which you will use to stuff the pasta shells. In a frying pan, heat your olive oil on a low heat and add your garlic. Cook for roughly 30 seconds-1 minute (you don’t want it to burn) and immediately add your spinach, salt and pepper. Cook for another 1-2 minutes until the spinach begins to wilt then turn off the heat. Stir in your ricotta and lemon zest.
  4. Lay your tomato sauce on the base of a deep baking tray. Fill your pasta shells with the ricotta/spinach mixture and lay on top of the sauce. add your mozzarella in chunks to the tops of each pasta shell.
  5. Cook for 20-25 minutes in the oven until the cheese is golden brown.

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