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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Baked Shells Casserole by Debbie

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped, divided
1 large onion, finely chopped, divided
1 small carrot, grated
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed by pressing under flat of your knife
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup dry white or red wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 - 28 ounce cans Italian crushed tomatoes
1 pound medium shell pasta (not the large stuffing shells)
2 boxes frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and wrung dry
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add 4 cloves of chopped garlic, 3/4 of finely chopped onion, and the carrot. Season with salt and pepper, oregano, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, and thyme. Gently saute 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add wine and reduce a minute. Add stock and tomatoes. Bring sauce up to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer sauce about 45 minutes.

After sauce has been simmering for 30 minutes, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt water and cook pasta for 5 minutes.

While the pasta water comes to a boil, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add remaining garlic and onion and saute to soften, about 5 minutes. Add spinach, pulling it apart and separating it as you add it to the 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 the pot along with ricotta and grated Parmesan cheese. Stir to combine. Add eggs and stir.

Pour a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 greased casserole dish. Top with the pasta mixture. Add a thin layer of tomato sauce to the top. You can either freeze at this point, or bake for 30 minutes.

To Use After Frozen
Thaw casserole completely. Place in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until bubbly. Can serve with extra tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese.
(This recipe is taken from Rachael Ray.)


  1. One kid liked it - One kid was so-so. Grown-ups liked it - Personally, I LOVED it. Great flavor (I love spinach!) and lots of food. Made for yummy leftovers too!
    Thanks, Debbie!
    :) Mags

  2. Very flavorful! Adults liked it, but wished it had some meat to make it more filling. 2 kids liked it, 1 did not and 1 liked it a little, but thought it was too spicy and needed meat.

  3. I liked it but it needed a lot more sauce. It was a little bland for us.

  4. I think this would have been better with more sauce and meat. The kids thought it was a little spicy, but we thought it was a little bland. Not sure if it was just not mixed up thoroughly.