Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Rachael Ray Baked Shell Casserole

Just happened to walk through the room while Rachael Ray's talk show was on and caught her making Baked Shells Casserole. Since I'm always in a rush these days (and ok, since I'm a little lazy too) I never make things like Stuffed Shells anymore. Since hubby is a lasagna fan (and I never do that either!) I thought I'd try this one. You make a quick and yummy tomato sauce and use it to top pasta coated in spinach and cheese-y goodness. Pop it in the oven and dinner is done. I didn't have ricotta so I used mozzarella instead and it was delicious. The sauce was so-so. (Feel free to substitute your favorite.) But the cheesy pasta was delicious. I ate a whole bowl full while the casserole was in the oven. You know. Too much pasta. Wouldn't fit in the casserole dish.

Had to do something with it. :-)

Rachael Ray Baked Shell Casserole
Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray

5 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped, divided
1 large or 2 small to medium onions, finely chopped, divided
1 small carrot, finely chopped or grated
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano or marjoram, half a palmful
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1/3 palmful
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed by pressing under flat of your knife
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, 5 to 6 sprigs
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white or red wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 28-ounce cans Italian crushed tomatoes
1 pound medium or large shell pasta (not extra-large stuffing shells)
2 boxes frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and wrung dry in clean towel
Freshly grated nutmeg, about 1/4 teaspoon
2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus some to pass at table
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons EVOO, 3 turns of the pan, over medium heat. Add 4 cloves of chopped garlic, 3/4 of finely chopped onion and the carrot. Season with salt, pepper, oregano or marjoram, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds and thyme, and gently sauté 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in parsley, stir, then add wine and reduce a minute. Add stock and tomatoes, bring sauce up to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer sauce 45 minutes.

After sauce has been simmering for 30 minutes, preheat oven to 375˚F.
Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt water and cook pasta 5 minutes.
While pasta water comes to a boil, heat remaining 2 tablespoons EVOO in a small skillet over medium heat. Add remaining garlic and onion and sauté to soften, 5 minutes. Add spinach, pulling it apart and separating it as you add it to pan. Stir to combine well and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Turn off heat.
Drain undercooked pasta and return it to the hot pot. Add spinach mixture to pot along with ricotta and grated Parm. Stir to combine, adjust salt and pepper then add eggs and stir.
Pour a thin layer of marinara sauce into the bottom of a casserole dish. Fill dish with pasta then top with another thin layer of red sauce. Save remaining sauce to pass at table. Bake 30 minutes until bubbly.
Serve casserole directly from casserole dish, passing extra sauce and cheese at the table.


Maria said...

I love baked shells, I have a recipe on my blog-I used portobellos and spinach, very tasty:) I need to make them again, thanks for the reminder!

Kim said...

Yum - this is one of my favorite kind of meals!