Spinach and Prosciutto Stuffed Shells

It’s amazing how the quality of ingredients used can completely change the way a dish tastes.  There is a world of difference between stuffed shells made with fresh whole milk ricotta without any added gums or stabilizers and those made with ricotta packed with added stabilizers.  The ricotta in these stuffed shells lends to a creamy and slighty sweet dish with the prosciutto balancing the sweetness with its salty flavor.  The prosciutto transforms this meal into one that is worthy of serving to company and it is perfect for making ahead of time and simply putting in the oven as guests arrive.  Enjoy!

Spinach and Prosciutto Stuffed Shells

Spinach and Prosciutto Stuffed Shells
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • For the shells:
  • 15 oz. whole milk ricotta
  • 8 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 20 pasta shells
  • extra mozzarella and parmesan for sprinkling on top

  • For the sauce:
  • 1 14.5 ounce can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 ounce can tomato sauce
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta shells in salted boiling water according to package directions.
  2. Cook the spinach in boiling water for 1-2 minutes until wilted. Drain and squeeze excess water out and roughly chop spinach.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, spinach, mozzarella, parmesan, prosciutto, egg, salt, and pepper until well blended. Set aside.
  4. In another medium bowl, mix the stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil, oregano, and salt.
  5. In a 9x13 baking dish, spread a thin layer of the tomato mixture to cover the bottom of the pan.
  6. Divide the ricotta filling among the stuffed shells, about 1½ - 2 tablespoons per shell. Arrange the shells neatly in the baking pan.
  7. Spoon remaining tomato mixture over the shells and sprinkle with extra mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
  8. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 400. Uncover and continue baking for another 15 minutes, until cheese is melted.
Notes
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Kale Salad with Red Cabbage, Carrots, and Pine Nuts

Did you know that you can get tennis elbow without being a tennis player?  I certainly didn’t, but now I have it and I know all about it.  It has forced me to slow down and appreciate all that I use my arms and hands for.  How true it is that it’s easy to take things for granted until those things are taken away.  As I struggled to chop this kale, I felt so thankful for simple things like being able to use a knife to cut fresh vegetables.  Doing things slowly help me to appreciate simple things in life.

Olive oil and lemon juice make up the dressing for this salad.  It may not sound like much, but the lemon truly brightens up the kale and cuts through any bitterness.  It’s simple, but goes along so well with the kale, cabbage, and carrots.  The wonderful thing about kale salads is that they store well as leftovers, although sometimes it’s necessary to add some extra dressing and seasoning to the salad if it’s eaten the next day.

Kale Salad with Red Cabbage, Carrots, and Pine Nuts
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • For the salad:
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1½ cups thinly chopped red cabbage
  • 1½ cups grated carrots (about 3 medium carrots)
  • ¼ cup pine nuts

  • For the dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • dash of pepper
Instructions
  1. Toast pine nuts in a single layer in a 350 oven for 2-3 minutes. Watch carefully because the pine nuts burn easily.
  2. Remove kale leaves from the tough stalks and roughly chop kale. Toss with the chopped cabbage and grated carrots.
  3. Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over salad, tossing together until salad is evenly coated. Top with the toasted pine nuts. Allow salad to marinate in dressing for 15 minutes or so before serving.

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Chorizo and Red Beans Rice

Chorizo and Red Beans Rice is a flavorful one pot dish with a variety of textures coming from the chorizo, red beans, and vegetables.  The star of this dish is the spanish chorizo which is a cured meat and can come mild or spicy, so choose accordingly.  Be sure not to confuse it with mexican chorizo, which is a fresh ground meat.    Sautéing the cured  meat with the vegetables releases the flavors of the the meat and distributes them throughout the dish.  This is a great dish for using up leftover rice, which we always seem to have a lot of around here.  Hooray for quick meals with hardly any dishes to clean afterwards!

Chorizo and Red Beans Rice
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups brown rice, uncooked
  • 4 ounces spanish chorizo, diced
  • 1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • parsley or cilantro for garnish
Instructions
  1. Cook rice in a rice cooker or according to package directions.
  2. Saute the onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic until golden. Add the chorizo, beans, and saute for another 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the rice, salt, pepper, and paprika and stir together thoroughly until heated through. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Garnish with cilantro or parsley.
Notes
inspired by a Whole Foods recipe

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