Monday, August 27, 2018

Stuffed Pasta Shells with Salmon, Ricotta & Spinach

Lynne discovered some amazing huge pasta shells at Checkers and decided to use them for friends who were coming to supper. Using a classic recipe of stuffing the shells with ricotta and spinach, she added some tinned Canadian salmon for added protein and made a separate tomato and red pepper sauce as a base. What went wrong? Lynne has decided she just doesn’t like the taste of ricotta cheese, which she found bitter, unlike all the others who enjoyed the dish. Here is the recipe, if you want to try it. Next time (and there will be a next time - as we cooked the whole packet of pasta, which was far too much and now have half of it frozen, waiting to be stuffed with a different filling. Perhaps a thick cream sauce with prawns, or a mushroom and spinach filling?

For the tomato and pepper sauce
1 T olive oil - 1 large onion, finely chopped – 2 cloves of garlic, chopped – 1 tin of chopped tomatoes - 1 large red pepper, sliced - 3 stalks of thyme – salt – freshly ground black pepper – sugar
Gently sweat the onion in the oil till soft, then add the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the pepper and the tomatoes and thyme and cook covered until they have broken down and made a nice thick sauce. Do stir occasionally and season. It the mixture is too acid, add a teaspoon or two of sugar. This is often necessary with local tinned tomatoes. If the mixture looks too thick, do add a little water
Pasta recipe
Conchiglioni – very large pasta shells – 350g fresh ricotta cheese – 2 fresh egg, lightly beaten – 180g fresh spinach – 1 tin of salmon – salt and pepper – nutmeg – half a cup of grated parmesan cheese – 200g mozzarella or taleggio

Cook the pasta according to instructions until it is ‘al dente’ (still with a bite, not floppy and soft). You will need about 5 shells per person and the cooked pasta left over will freeze. Cook the spinach briefly, then strain well and dry it off as much as you can. (You can use Swiss chard but real spinach is far better). Finely chop then add to the ricotta with the eggs, seasoning and several gratings of nutmeg. Drain the can of salmon; flake it and stir into the cheese and spinach mix. Use this to stuff the pasta shells. In a large ceramic serving dish that will go into the oven, put a 2cm layer of the tomato sauce then arrange your pasta shells. Top with the parmesan and slices of the soft cheese. Cover with foil and put into the oven at 180°C for half an hour before serving. You can serve with extra tomato and pepper sauce
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