4-Cheese Stuffed Shells With Artichoke and Spinach

09aStuffedShellsBakedbfLOSee… here’s the deal:

I liked this recipe, from the very nice folk at Cooking Light, but I believe it has some issues.

First off: the whole bidness of ‘lite’ and reduced whatever cheeses. Nope, not gonna do it; most of that stuff just turns a perfectly good cheese into a chemistry project. I went with all ‘regular’ cheeses – and added just a wee, tiny bit more at the end, because it was looking a might skimpy on top.

02SauceIngredientsbfLOSecond: the sauce, which I do quite like.

Except, I believe a tablespoon of sugar would’ve smoothed out the excess acidity of the peperoncini; and next time (and yes, this is a pretty good recipe, so there will be a next time), I will make a double batch of the sauce; the shells could’ve used it.

03aSaucebfLOAnd, lastly: half a box of frozen, chopped spinach?!? What am I gonna do with the other half? Pffft, I added the whole box to the stuffing and it was pretty tasty.

Sauce (I’d say double it):
•1 tsp dried oregano
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper*
•1/4 cup chopped peperoncini peppers
•1 (28 oz) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
•1 (8 oz) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
•1 tbsp sugar

04StuffingIngredientsbfLO*No Aleppo pepper? No problem! Substitute 3/4 tsp sweet paprika and 1/4 tsp Cayenne

Stuffing and Pasta:
•1 cup (4 oz) shredded provolone cheese, divided
•1 cup (4 oz) crumbled feta cheese
•1/2 cup (4 oz) cream cheese, softened
•1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese (for topping)
•1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
•1 (9 oz) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and chopped
•1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
03cSaucePeperoncinibfLO•2 garlic cloves, minced
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Sauce
(or Tabasco)
•20 +/- cooked jumbo shell pasta

First, boil the shells in well-salted water according to package diersctions (mine went 9 minutes), then drain, separate, and arrange on a baking sheet until ready to stuff

Preheat oven to 375°

05ShellsStuffingMixedbfLOMake the sauce by combining the tomatoes, tomato sauce, peperoncini, oregano, and Aleppo pepper (or paprika and Cayenne) in a pot over medium heat.

Cook for 10 minutes, stirring every now and then, until thickened slightly.

Give it a taste.

Nice, no? But, mebbe, just a touch too vinegar-y? Add that spoonful of sugar and simmer for a few more minutes, taste again, then set aside.

06ShellsStuffedbfLOHokay! Shells hangin’ out, sauce is made; let’s get on with the stuffing – which – BTW I am loving, because it doesn’t call for, nor really seems to need, eggs!

Combine 1/2 cup of the provolone with the cream cheese and feta in a bowl with the spinach, artichoke hearts, garlic, pepper, and Cajun Power sauce.

07bShellsSauceNicebfLOSlip the cheese-y goodness into the shells – which are still a bit firm, but that’s fine – and arrange in a buttered 13×9 inch baking pan.

Spoon the tomato sauce over the shells – as you can see here, I think it could’ve used a bit more sauce – then cover tightly with foil and bake for 25 minutes.

Remove the foil and add the remaining half-cup of shredded provolone.

Looks kinda skimpy, doesn’t it?

09cStuffedShellsBakedbfLOI thought you’d think so, so QuickLikeABunny, I grabbed a bit of shredded mozz from the fridge and added that to the top.

Much more better!

Back into the oven, uncovered, for a few more minutes (five to ten) to nicely melt the cheese, and you’re done!

Not bad. Not bad at all.

But it’s be better with more sauce, a touch more cheese, mebbe that spoonful of sugar, and, go ahead, live life large; use that whole package of frozen spinach!

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