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food

Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Shells

The melty cheese factor for this baked pasta dish is high, with some artichokes and spinach thrown in for good measure.

Ingredients

  • For the filling:
  • 10 ounces jumbo shell pasta, about 18 to 20 shells
  • 3 cups baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 2 cups whole milk ricotta
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • For the sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk, warmed
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • For the topping:
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Italian parsley for garnish

Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook about 10 minutes, or until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Spread the cooked shells on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking together.
  3. For the filling:
  4. In a medium bowl, using a rubber spatula, combine chopped spinach, artichokes, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, garlic, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and stir until combined. Stir in egg and mix until well incorporated.
  5. For the sauce:
  6. In a large, nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, and cook for about 1 minute until the flour develops a slightly nutty fragrance. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking continuously. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is slightly thickened and coats the back of a spoon, about 6 minutes.
  7. Remove skillet from the heat and stir in the mascarpone, salt, garlic, grated lemon zest, juice,pepper and nutmeg. Loosen the sauce with reserved pasta water in small increments until smooth and pourable.
  8. Layer half of the sauce on the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the spinach artichoke filling into each shell, and nestle the shells into the sauce with the filling-side up. Pour the remaining sauce over the shells.
  9. For the topping:
  10. In a small bowl, combine the panko, Parmesan and olive oil. Sprinkle mixture over the shells and bake uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and edges of the shells are browned. Cool slightly before serving, and garnish with chopped parsley.