When I was a boy one of my favourite cartoon characters was Popeye the Sailor. Popeye would always produce a tin of spinach to give him superhuman power just when he appeared to be beaten.
I can't promise that this Spinach and Ricotta vegetarian meal recipe will give you superhuman strength, but spinach is an excellent source of iron and this is a tasty dish.
Pasta shells come in various sizes and it is important to use the largest size, known as conchiglioni. Stuffing enough of the smaller shells to feed two people would be a very frustrating exercise!
Parmesan cheese made with vegetarian rennet can be hard to find. Any tasty hard cheese can be used in its place.
To make 2 servings:
|250g (8oz) spinach||56|
|125g (4oz) Ricotta cheese||216|
|1 clove garlic, crushed||4|
|30g (1oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese||131|
|16 large pasta shells||288|
|1 small onion, chopped||40|
|400g (1 can) chopped tomatoes||67|
|Salt and Pepper to taste||5|
Around 440 kCals per serving.
Cook the pasta shells in lightly salted boiling water until they are 'al dente'. The pasta we buy takes about 13 minutes but read the directions on the packet.
Drain well and rince with cold water.
Make tomato sauce by gently frying the chopped onion and the garlic until it is soft and translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.
Wash the spinach well and then transfer it to a hot pan. Season with salt and let the leaves wilt for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain well.
Put the wilted spinach with the ricotta cheese and the egg in a food blender and blend to a rough paste. Check the seasoning and add a little salt if required for your taste.
Use the spinach and ricotta paste to fill the pasta shells. The easiest way to do this is with a piping bag with a large nozzle, but it can be done with a spoon.
Pre-heat your oven to around 180°C/350°F. Put half of the tomato sauce into an oven proof dish, add the filled pasta shells open side uppermost. Pour over the remaining tomato sauce, sprinkle on the grated parmesan and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
Serve hot and enjoy.