As much as I love cooking, during the school year, it's often hard to find the time to make something new and delicious every night. Hence, Kraft Mac and Cheese becomes my almost nightly staple. I do admit to loving psychedelic pseudo-cheese covered noodles perhaps a bit too much. However, these shells almost rank as high on my scale of cheesy delicious pasta. This dish takes slightly longer to make, but also has protein, veggies, and almost tastes better left over!
1 Box Jumbo Shells (16oz)
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Can of (Organic) Whole Peeled Tomatoes
12oz Ricotta Cheese
1 Package Frozen Spinach
1 Package Baby Bella Mushrooms
Salt & Pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat six quarts of water to a boil in a large pasta pot. Add salt to taste.
To make sauce:
Heat olive oil in a frying pan on medium flame and add a few teaspoons of garlic (to taste). Stir until garlic is golden brown. Lower the flame and add in the entire can of tomatoes- beware of splattering! Stir until garlic has mixed in with tomatoes and add Italian Seasonings to taste. Feel free to throw in fresh basil, if available. Simmer for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once the tomato mixture has come to a slow boil, transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor, or a blender, which works equally as well. Pulse on high until the sauce is completely smooth.
Transfer the sauce back to the pan and simmer on low heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add jumbo shells to the boiling water. Add a few shakes of salt to bring out the flavor of the pasta. Cook according to the al dente directions on the box. The noodles need to be firm!
Defrost the spinach in the microwave. Chop the mushrooms to desired size. Mix vegetables with ricotta cheese in a large bowl and add a few shakes of italian seasoning for flavor.
Drain and rinse the noodles in cold water until they're cool enough to touch. Return to the pot. Pour the pan of sauce into the bottom of a large glass baking pan. You're ready to stuff! (Which is not an activity conducive to taking pictures or texting...) Layer two noodles together and stuff with a heaping teaspoon of cheese mixture. Set into the baking pan. Fill baking pan with rows of noodles.
When the pan is full, sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top of shells and bake for 15 minutes. Broil for 5 more minutes for a crispy topping, and dinner/lunch for the next week is ready!