Monday, February 18, 2013

Belated Valentine's Day Dinner

Valentine's Day dinner was celebrated the weekend after and since I was busy at school Saturday my wonderful fiancee made dinner.  I gave him the option to make a recipe I chose or to choose one for the Food Network magazine that just came in the mail.  I do have a large heavy box of Food Network magazines packed away.  I think I need to unpack those at some point that I have settled in my new and temporary home.  Now to find where that box is, haha! 

So I had a craving for pasta, which is normally all of the time.  If there was whole wheat pasta shells I think this dish would have been even better.  So the recipe that was chosen is...

Mushroom-Spinach Stuffed Shells

This recipe is considered light, which it really was and absolutely delicious.  There are a few things I need to figure out when making this recipe again. Sadly making this recipe was a bit time consuming but worth it in the end.


For the stuffed shells:
Kosher salt
8 ounces (20 to 24) jumbo pasta shells
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling & brushing
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces white mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed & squeezed dry
1½ cups low-far small-curd cottage cheese
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup chopped fresh basil

For the sauces:
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tsp fennel seeds
Large pinch of red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, crushed by hand
Kosher salt
¼ low-far small-curd cottage cheese
¼ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Make the stuffed shells: Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta shells and cook until slightly softened but still firm, about 7 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drizzle with olive oil and toss; set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook, undisturbed, until golden in spots, about 2 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are soft, about 5 more minutes. Add the spinach and stir until heated through, about 2 minutes. Let cool completely.

Finely chop the spinach-mushroom mixture and combine in a bowl with the cottage cheese, mozzarella, parmesan, egg, basil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stuff each shell with about 2 tablespoons of the filling; set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Make the tomato sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until lightly golden, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, then rinse out the can with 1 cup water and add to the skillet; add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Return to the skillet and rinse out the blender.

Make the cheese sauce: Combine the cottage cheese, mozzarella, parmesan and egg in the blender and puree until smooth.

Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with olive oil and pour in half of the tomato sauce. Add the stuffed shells, then top with the remaining tomato sauce. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 25 minutes; uncover and continue baking until bubbly, 15 to 20 more minutes. Turn on the broiler; drizzle the shells with the cheese sauce and broil, about 2 minutes.

I almost forgot to take a picture!!!  We were too focused on eating!

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