Spinach & Ricotta Pasta Shells with Perfect Tomato Sauce
This recipe is a fantastic choice for anyone looking for a go-to vegetarian dish that’s guaranteed to satisfy. It does involve a few steps, but they are all super easy and can be done in advance, meaning you can simply pop this in the oven just before serving.
Bring a large pot of water to boil and add a teaspoon of salt. Add pasta shells and cook for about eight minutes, until al Dente. Drain the pasta and set aside to cool.
To make the tomato sauce, gently heat the olive oil in a medium size pan. Add the onions and gently sauté until soft – but not brown – about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, chilli flakes, and oregano, stir a further minute, then add the tomatoes and basil. Season with salt and pepper and bring to simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and cool.
To make the filling, sauté the spinach in a tablespoon of olive oil until wilted. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Squeeze any excess moisture from the spinach, then slice it finely. In a large pot, mix together the ricotta, egg yolk, lemon zest, Parmigiano Reggiano, flour, spinach, and a good grind of salt and pepper.
To assemble: Spread the tomato sauce along the bottom of a large casserole dish. Using a teaspoon, stuff each pasta shell with a generous dollop of the ricotta mixture. Arrange the filled shells in the tomato sauce and cover with a lid or tinfoil.
Heat the oven to 180°C. Transfer the pasta to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until heated through. Delicious with a simple rocket salad and extra Parmigiano on the side for grating.
Cook’s tip: for an easy gluten free option, omit the flour and bake dollops of the ricotta mix directly in the sauce, skipping the pasta altogether.
Shop the recipe here:
For the tomato sauce:
2 cans chopped tomatoes, blitzed in a food processor
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced with a little salt
1 medium onion, finely diced
A pinch of chilli flakes
A pinch of dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 stem fresh basil, torn into pieces