stuffshells

Pasta can be a real crowd-pleaser. It’s a hit with kiddos, a classic comfort food, and like that LBD in your closet, it can be used on many different occasions. This recipe from On Sugar Mountain for spinach and bacon stuffed shells is perfect for a big family gathering or a simple weeknight meal. Throw the leftover bacon grease into the tomato sauce, and you’ll amp up the bacon-y-ness into phenomenal-flavor territory. If things get a bit messy during assembly, never fear–the end result is so worth it.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients for the Filling:

1 (15oz) container ricotta
1 egg, beaten
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup frozen spinach, defrosted and drained completely

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Ingredients for the Sauce:

leftover bacon grease (from bacon in filling)
a few tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tsp minced garlic
1 (28oz) can plus 1 (14.5oz) can crushed tomatoes

Bonus: panko breadcrumbs, for topping

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray one 13×9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta shells until al dente. Drain and toss with a smidge of olive oil. Let cool until you can easily hold one in your hand.
  2. Meanwhile, make the filling: stir ricotta and egg in a medium bowl until well mixed. Stir in sea salt, cheese, bacon and spinach until evenly distributed. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. For the sauce: Pour leftover bacon grease into a glass measuring cup. Add enough olive oil to hit 1/3 cup of oil. Add this, along with sea salt, red pepper, and garlic to a large saucepan. Heat over medium heat until just fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add both cans of tomatoes and let cook an additional 2-3 minutes or until sauce comes together. Let cool slightly, then pulse in blender until smooth.
  4. Add 1/2 cup sauce to bottom of prepared pan.
  5. Assemble the shells: Hold shell in palm of your hand. Stuff with filling (approx 1 1/2 tbsp per shell) then place, seam side up, in prepared pan. Continue until you finish all the shells/fill up the casserole dish.
  6. Top shells with rest of tomato sauce. Top with breadcrumbs and cover pan with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Jess at On Sugar Mountain. A recent college graduate from Rutgers University who majored in English and minored in Entrepreneurship, Jess is all about cooking, baking, and satisfying her serious sweet tooth. Through her blog, On Sugar Mountain, she strives to develop cooking skills that will advance her love for food, share recipes she’s tried, and inspire others to get cooking.