Artichoke & Spinach Stuffed Shells

Last night was one of those nights when you go through everything you have in the kitchen and try to come up with something creative just so you don’t have to go to the store. I looked around and had an onion, spinach, a can of artichokes, and some leftover pasta shells. Done…stuffed shells it is! This could not have been easier, and it was pretty good for an experimental dinner!

Ingredients: Serves 3
1/2 box jumbo pasta shells
1 cup ricotta cheese
(half) 14oz can whole artichokes, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can tomato sauce (if no herbs, add a big pinch of dried basil, oregano, salt and pepper)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Small handful fresh chopped basil, for serving (optional)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Get a large pot of salted water boiling and cook the pasta shells as directed. Make sure not to overcook them as they will continue to cook in the oven.

Head some olive in a large pan, add the garlic, onion, and a little salt and pepper. Cook for about 1-2 minutes, then toss in the chopped spinach and artichokes and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Let cool slightly. In a large bowl mix together the ricotta, cooked vegetables, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Pour some of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a baking dish, then fill each pasta shell with some of the filling and place in a single layer. Cover the shells with some more pasta sauce, and top with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese and shredded mozzarella. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for another 5 minutes. Top with some fresh chopped basil and serve.

Sweet Potato and Kale Stuffed Shells

I really love stuffed shells and usually make them the popular way with ricotta and spinach, but this time I went for a fall version and used sweet potato, ricotta, and kale. They came out great and didn’t take a long time to make, which was a bonus. I was thinking of what type of sauce to use, and decided a simple brown butter would do the trick. The shells are already sweet from the potato, so I didn’t want to overdue it with a heavy or rich sauce. This is an easy comforting fall meal!

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1/2 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 bunch of kale (about 2-3 cups roughly chopped)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon powdered sage, halved
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 box large pasta shells
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the cubed sweet potato on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon dried sage, and salt/pepper. Bake for 30 minutes or until fork tender. When the potatoes are about half way done cooking, get a pot of boiling water going and cook the pasta shells as directed on the box. Next, sauté the garlic for about a minute in some olive oil over medium heat, then add the shallot and cook for another minute or until translucent. Toss in the kale and cook until wilted. Once the sweet potato is cooked, place it in a food processor with the ricotta cheese and pulse until smooth. Next, add the kale mixture and blend until the kale is chopped and incorporated. Salt and pepper to taste.

Lightly oil a baking dish to prevent the pasta from sticking. Fill the shells with the sweet potato mixture and place in a single layer in the baking dish. At this point you could sprinkle some freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top if you’d like (I forgot to buy the cheese so I skipped it) then cover with tin foil and bake for 15 minutes. While the shells are baking, make the brown butter sauce. Melt the butter over medium heat and cook until golden in color with a nutty fragrance, then turn down the heat to low. This only takes a minute or two, so watch the butter to make sure it doesn’t burn! Add the maple syrup, powdered sage, and cinnamon to the butter and cook for a minute then turn off the heat. When the shells have cooked for 15 minutes, remove them from the oven and pour the browned butter over the shells. Place back in the oven (without the foil) for 10 minutes, or until slightly golden.

Let cool for a few minutes before serving. Top with some extra Parmesan cheese and drizzle some of the butter from the bottom of the baking dish. Enjoy!