As you probably know there are thousands of variations of this recipe out there. In fact you have most certainly cooked something similar in your own kitchens! So I imagine you must know that these dishes are totally yummy! Ricotta and spinach marry beautifully in pasta dishes, and sharp tomato sauce compliments them so well! My method is adapted from one of Kurma Dasa’s fabulous books but my aunty also makes a version of it with giant conch-shaped pasta. This makes a great party dish as you can bake lots of trays and everyone can just dig in! Although today I made this simply for dinner. I baked enough for today and refrigerated the rest to bake tomorrow. A homemade ready meal if you will! I love to add a red chilli to my tomato sauce because it balances the rich and creamy filling really well (and of course because I love spicy food!) So enjoy my version of spinach and ricotta pasta… it really is something special!
240g lumaconi pasta, cooked al dente so that it is still firm (you will need to bake it later so it will finish off cooking in the oven. It needs to be firm enough so you can handle it while stuffing)
125g mozzarella cheese, torn into pieces
For the tomato sauce
500g tomatoes (I used tinned because it’s all I had, but of course you can use fresh!)
6 cloves garlic, crushed (yes lots but it really needs heaps of flavour)
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red chilli, chopped
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
Ingredients for the stuffing
180g fresh spinach, chopped finely and wilted (I did this in the microwave because I’m a lazy girl!) Try to remove all the water you can from the spinach too- I added this water to my tomato sauce- waste not want not!
500g ricotta cheese
¼ cup breadcrumbs (or more if your spinach is very moist)
Salt to taste
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped
1. In a saucepan heat the olive oil and gently sauté the garlic and chilli. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, salt and sugar. Reduce to a thick sauce (this usually takes around 15-20 minutes. Cover the bottom of a wide baking dish with the sauce.
2. Mix together all the ingredients for the stuffing and with a teeny tiny spoon (or your hands) stuff the pasta with the filling. Lay the shells on top of the tomato sauce and top with the torn mozzarella.
3. If you like drizzle with a little olive oil and bake on a moderate oven until golden brown on top.
Ciao for now!