Giant Shells Stuffed With Spinach & Ricotta using ugly sauce
Adapted from NYT Cooking
Made with Ugly Sauce (orig.)
1 lb fresh spinach
Sea Salt to taste
12 ounces giant pasta shells
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, to taste, cut in half, green shoots removed
15 oz ricotta cheese (preferably Calabro)
1 organic egg, beaten
2 tablespoons minced chives
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
Freshly ground pepper
2 cups Ugly Sauce (preferably original)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Fill a bowl with ice water. Blanch the spinach for no more than 20 seconds, just until wilted, and transfer to the ice water, then drain. Squeeze out excess water. Bring the water in the pot back to a boil and add the pasta shells. Cook al dente, about 7-8 minutes (or read pasta package for ideal time), and drain and toss with the extra virgin olive oil. Set aside.
In a food processor, chop the garlic until it's minced and adhering to the sides of the bowl. Scrape down the sides and add the cooled spinach and pulse to chop finely. Add the ricotta and the egg and process until well blended. Add 1/3 cup of the Parm cheese, chives, and sea salt and black pepper to taste. Pulse until well blended.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Oil a large baking dish or two 2-quart dishes. The shells should fit into the dish in one layer. Fill each shell with a scant tablespoon of the filling. Arrange in a single layer in the baking dish. Top with Ugly Sauce and cover the dish with foil.
Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from the heat, sprinkle on the remaining fresh Parm and serve.
Advance preparation: You can assemble this dish through Step 3 several hours before baking and keep it in the refrigerator. You can also freeze it for a few months.