Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Shells

January 8, 2010 · 17 comments

in italian,pasta,vegetarian

Let’s take a break…at least for a while…from all the sweets.  I swear, just looking at this blog lately makes my teeth ache, and as for actually eating all the things posted, well, that hasn’t really helped any other part of my body.

One thing I’d like to do more of this year (much to Tom’s dismay) is eat a few more vegetarian meals here and there.  Although I do think of pasta as the cliché vegetarian main dish, you have to work in somewhat clichéd ways in order to trick your husband.  Not that Tom was fooled by the lack of meat in this dish, but with the mushrooms, spinach, and cheese all in his favorite carb ever–pasta–he certainly didn’t complain.

I don’t really make stuffed shells often because I have never  been able to find whole wheat shells (at least, not large ones) at the store. If anyone knows where to find this very elusive whole wheat product, please let me know.  I think this will just have to be one pasta product that I eat enriched, albeit infrequently. For the record, the other is orzo. There is something distinctly bizarre and horribly gummy about whole wheat orzo–at least the couple varieties I have tried–so there will be no more of that for a while, either.

I really loved these shells, as I love anything with mushrooms. I think a smoky mozzarella or fontina would add another layer of flavor that would make these even better. I’m submitting these over to Gay from A Scientist in the Kitchen, who is hosting Presto Pasta Night. As I’m sure you all know by now, Ruth from Once Upon a  Feast is the creator of PPN and I always look forward to the round-ups!

Mushroom and Spinach Stuffed Shells

Serves 4
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6 oz. large pasta shells (about 20-22 shells)
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
10 oz. (about 3 cups) cremini mushrooms, chopped
2 large shallots or half a medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried basil
16 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 (15 oz.) container ricotta (I use part-skim)
2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese (about 1.5 oz.), divided
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I use part-skim)
2 cups pasta sauce, jarred or homemade

Preheat the oven to 350. Cook the shells in salted water to al dente.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium.  Add the mushrooms and cook until they have released most of their juices. Stir in the shallots, garlic, and salt and pepper.  Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the moisture from the mushrooms has been evaporated and the shallots are tender. Scoop into a large bowl. After it’s cooled slightly, add the thyme, oregano, basil, spinach, egg, ricotta and 1/3 cup of the parmesan. Mix to combine all the ingredients well.

Pour about 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce into the bottom of a large baking dish.  Stuff each shell with 1-2 Tbsp. of the stuffing and place in the baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the shells and sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining parmesan cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 5-10 more until the cheese starts to brown.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter G January 8, 2010 at 10:55 am

These look lovely and homey Elly. I love pasta too…but I’ve yet to try whole wheat orzo!

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nina January 8, 2010 at 11:04 am

Oh golly gumdrops that looks good and I have just had supper!!! Unbelievably good!!!!

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beth January 8, 2010 at 11:28 am

My hubby always groans when I produce vegie meals – but Im sure he would agree this one looks fantastic

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Carly January 8, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Darling blog and those look so yummy! I also come from greek ancestry and am expecting my first baby in May:) Planning to name her name Eleni, I was wondering if your name was short for any Greek name? I am excited to name my baby Eleni so I can call her Elly for short:)

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elly January 8, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Hi Carly! Thanks for visiting. :) My full name is actually Elly (and I love it by the way). I was named for my grandmother, though, and her full name is Erithelli. I just lucked out and didn’t get the whole name. LOL. I love Eleni though, I’ve always thought it was a pretty name!

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bellini valli January 8, 2010 at 3:54 pm

I loved stuffed shells and really like the addition of the mushrooms.

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Maria January 8, 2010 at 5:04 pm

I so love stuffed shells and it was one of those meals we had often growing up as it was easy and cost effective to feed a large family with. I’m sad to say I don’t make them all that often for my own kids but am thinking I now should. Your version sounds great. Love the mushrooms and all the herbs.

BTW, my daughter’s full name is Eleftheria (mother in law’s name) but I vowed to call her Ellie (even before the baby was born and I ever knew what it would be) early on. I just love the sound of the name Ellie/Elly … too cute!! My Ellie is now 5 1/2 years old (as she loves to say) and I’m here wondering how time has flown by!

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sophia January 8, 2010 at 10:38 pm

I’m not a vegetarian, but looking at this amazing, cheesy dish…I think a vegetarian diet won’t be as painful as I think!

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Cate January 8, 2010 at 11:34 pm

I’ve barely eaten any pasta since I stopped eating meat (and I’m lucky because my husband doesn’t really miss it too much), but I am all over these!

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Lisa January 9, 2010 at 5:55 am

Love any pasta dish and this one has some of my favourite ingredients in it. What a lovely name Erithelli. I have never heard of it before unless it is the same with Erithelgi.

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Kevin January 9, 2010 at 7:56 am

Those stuffed shells look nice and tasty! I really like the sound of the stuffing.

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Peter January 9, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Think of the pasta as the container for the vegetarian goodness. It’s a bonus that one gets to eat the container. That would be my justification.

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Colleen January 12, 2010 at 5:46 pm

These look delicious! I like your suggestions for other cheeses, too.

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sara January 17, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Mmmm, these look really good! I love stuffed shells but I haven’t made them in a long time…I will have to try them again! :)

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Ruth January 31, 2010 at 9:11 am

I can’t believe I missed this one when it was first posted. It’s one of my favorite baked pastas. Thanks so much for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

I’m hosting this week and I hope you plan on sending another one our way.

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