Thursday, November 6, 2008

Shells with Crispy Pancetta and Spinach

Cook Time: 25 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 to 6 servings



* 1 (12-ounce) package jumbo shells pasta
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1/2 pound thick-cut pancetta, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
* 2 pounds frozen spinach, thawed and drained
* 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta
* 1 cup grated asiago cheese
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


* 1 tablespoon butter
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1 cup cream
* 2 cups grated asiago cheese, plus 1/4 cup
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the shells:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the
pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring
occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

Warm the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the
pancetta and cook until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Remove the
pancetta from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large
bowl. Add the spinach, ricotta cheese, asiago cheese, pepper, and
nutmeg. Stir to combine. Stuff the shells with about 2 tablespoons of
the spinach mixture each and place the stuffed shells in a large,
buttered baking dish.

For the sauce:

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic and cook for 1
minute. Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to very low
and add the 2 cups asiago cheese, parsley, and pepper. Stir until the
cheese is dissolved. Pour the sauce over the shells. Top with the
remaining 1/4 cup asiago cheese. Bake until golden on top, about 25
minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.


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