Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spinach & Cheese Stuffed Pasta

It was half day at kiddo's school today & all his classmates' parents decided to meet out at a local park for a picnic lunch and play date. The question was what should I pack for lunch that would be tempting enough to make him sit through the meal without distractions at the park. And I did not have much time to prepare anything. Had to prepare this meal along with dinner in a little over an hour as the rest of the day was jam packed with activities.

Pasta seemed like the best alternative - he loves it and if I used ready made pasta sauce and added some veggies it would satisfy my needs too. All the cheese would also make it filling.

I had bought some jumbo pasta shells with the idea of trying some stuffed pasta recipe. So, I decided to use those. Now came the question of stuffing. Used whatever cheese I could find in the refrigerator. I had some Parmesan cheese and a packet of shredded five cheese blend for pizza, so used both those. I also had some Creamy Swiss flavored Laughing Cow Cheese, so used that as well.

Now came the veggie part. Spinach seemed like the most suitable option, so that's what I used. The pasta sauce was some ready made tomato basil marinara sauce.

My son of course ate his limited portion size but I absolutely pigged out!

Preparation & Cooking: 50 minutes            Serves: 2
Jumbo Pasta Shells - about 15 shells
Spinach - ½ cup, chopped fine
Basil - 2 tablespoons, chopped fine
Instant Mashed Potato Flakes - ¼ cup
Grated Cheese - ½ cup (I used a mix of Mozzarella, Parmesan, Somked Provolone, Asiago, White Cheddar & Romano)
Creamy Swiss Flavored Laughing Cow Cheese - 3 wedges
Sour Cream - 2 tablespoons
Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese - for topping off
Pasta Sauce (Marinara) - 1 & ½ cup
Nutmeg - a dash
Pepper -  to taste, freshly cracked
Salt - to taste
Oil/Cooking Spray - to grease the baking dish

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius).
  • Cook pasta in boiling water al dente (about 8-10 minutes approximately). Drain and set aside.
  • In a bowl take the chopped spinach and basil, grated cheese, cheese wedges, sour cream, mashed potato flakes, nutmeg, pepper and salt to prepare the stuffing.
  • Microwave this mixture for 2 minutes with about a tablespoon of water & mix  well.
  • Grease an oven safe deep dish and fill it with about a cup of pasta sauce and keep it aside.
  • Fill each pasta shell with the spinach & cheese stuffing
  • Place the stuffed shells in the prepared dish.
  • Ladle another quarter of a cup of pasta sauce over the pasta shells and then grate some parmesan cheese over it
  • Bake it in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius) for about 35 minutes. Take it out of the oven once the cheese gets bubbly.

Serve hot...


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