Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Stuffed Pesto Shells

This is one of those super yummy recipes that when the last shell is gone you are already thinking about when you can make this again!! 
I've always been a big fan of any type of ricotta stuffing whether in manicotti or shells. In fact it is usually my #1 choice whenever I eat at an Italian restaurant.  This recipe is unique because of the addition of pesto sauce to the ricotta filling. The pesto adds just the right zip along with the blend of cheeses and the pasta sauce to make this casserole perfect to serve to dinner guests. 
Stuffed Pesto Shells

1 (12 oz.) box jumbo pasta shells
15 oz. part skim ricotta
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup pesto with basil
1 large egg
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped (optional)

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box (around 10-12 mins). You can add 1 Tbsp of oil to the boiling water to keep the shells from sticking to each other. Be careful not to over cook the pasta. Drain the pasta and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking pasta. In a bowl, mix together the ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, pesto, spinach (if using) and the egg. Spread one cup of pasta sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish. Spoon 2 to 3 Tbsp of pesto cheese mixture into the center of each cooked shell. Pack them tightly in a single layer in the baking dish.  Pour the remaining pasta sauce over the top of the shells. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and spread remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese over the top. 

Original recipe from Budget Bytes

I served the stuffed pesto shells along with roasted broccoli, salad and cheesy bread.  We had some shells leftover and they tasted great re-heated the next day. This recipe would also be a wonderful meal to prepare for a new mom or even divided among two smaller casserole pans and kept in the freezer until you need an easy weeknight meal.  This recipe is definitely a keeper in my collection!!! 

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