Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Artichoke, Spinach, and Feta Stuffed Shells

It's hard to make a picture of stuffed shells look appetizing. Let's just be honest: They look better in person. Bless their little hearts for being kind of "eh" for their close-up. The bottom line here is that this is one of my favorite recipes, and it's never had less than rave reviews when I've made it for other people. So this post of for everyone who's asked for the recipe over the last few months only to have me say, "Yes, I'll send that to you!" My problem is making myself stop to type out a recipe I cut from an 8-year-old magazine. Yes, I could scan it, but I'm a notes-all-over-my-original-recipe kind of girl, and that's just embarrassing to share with the world. ("You tripled the cheese, Carden? Really? I think I figured out your weight problem...")

So to all of you who have waited patiently, I give you my version of Cooking Light's Artichoke, Spinach, and Feta Stuffed Shells. With extra cheese.

Artichoke, Spinach, and Feta Stuffed

1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 (28-oz.) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes with added puree
1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
1 cup shredded provolone cheese, divided
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
8 oz. fat-free cream cheese, softened
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
9 oz. artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 garlic cloves, minced
12 oz. jumbo shell pasta, cooked

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat; cook 12 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and set aside.

Combine 1/2 cup provolone and the next 6 ingredients (through garlic) in a medium bowl. Spoon or pipe about 1 1/2 tbsp. cheese mixture into each pasta shell. Place stuffed shells in a 13x9-inch baking dish. Spoon tomato mixture over shells; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup provolone. Bake for 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated with melted cheese.

Jenny's recipe note: Use a lot more cheese. A hearty amount of shredded mozzarella on top makes everyone happy.

Big surprise - I heart prep work. My cheeses are ready to go in the Easy Read Measuring Cups, a set that will absolutely change the way you feel about measuring. Before I had these, I fumbled around like crazy, but now I'm all smiles when measuring, and I have a look of sheer contentment on my face when I hit the right mark. (Imagine a Snuggie commercial.) Ok, so maybe it's not that drastic, but these really are great. My oregano is in a Pinch Bowl, and I've got red pepper measured in in an Adjustable Measuring Spoon. Then there's the Smooth-Edge Can Opener... best. can. opener. ever. People buy these and then order more for all their family members. It's a beautiful thing.

I love the 8-Quart Stockpot from the Executive Cookware Collection. You know what's annoying and/or unsafe? A big pot of boiling water and noodles that's not easy to handle. Thank you, 8-Qt. Stockpot for making the "cooked according to package directions" step of this recipe bearable. Behind my big pot, I've got the 1.5-Qt. Saucepan with cream cheese softening. Yes, I'm the girl who always forgets to soften the cream cheese and then heats it while I do other steps of the recipe. That's the Skinny Scraper in the cream cheese and a Bamboo Spoon in the noodles.

This is my artichoke/noodle station. AKA: My kitchen sink. I can't say enough about the value of a cutting board that fits over the sink, and that's exactly what the Large Grooved Cutting Board does. In a small kitchen, this is fabulous. Then I've got my Colander & Bowl Set doing its thing and simplifying life. The Food Chopper makes chopping artichokes ridiculously easy, and then I can just take it apart and stick it in the dishwasher. The Handy Scraper is crucial when transporting chopped artichokes from the cutting board to the bowl. Then there's the Garlic Press...

So about the Garlic Press: Love. There is no substitute for fresh garlic in a recipe, but a lot of people avoid it because of the peeling. Honestly, if I didn't have good tools that kept my hands away from the gross stuff, I'd have a jar of who-knows-how-old garlic in my fridge, too. So I don't judge. This is what it looks like to use fresh garlic with the Pampered Chef Garlic Press. A lot of times, the whole peel will come out on the hopper, and you don't even have to get it out of the press. If you do need to get it out, however, there's a handy tool for that. Yes, they think of everything. Besides, you don't get to use the word "hopper" with a jar of garlic.

So now it's time to assemble the recipe. I'm using my favorite bowl from the Stainless Mixing Bowl Set, and the Mix 'n Scraper made it crazy easy to stir all those thick ingredients together. To fill the shells, I stick a Ziploc bag in the Measure-All Cup, fill it with the Classic Scraper, and close it off using a Twixit! Clip. Then I can just snip the end and fill shells easily.

Line the shells up in the Rectangular Baker, top them with sauce, cheese, and more cheese, and you're good to go! Just bake this beauty until you like the way it looks, and enjoy. This ladle is from the Specialty Nylon Tool Set. I love leaving tools in pots and pans without wondering if they're going to melt when I walk away.
This recipe is awesome. I don't know what else to say about it. My grandmother gave me a stack of old Cooking Light magazines, and this is my most treasured find from the haul. It's a great meal to serve dinner guests, and it's also perfect for taking to others. If you do that, just make it ahead, leave it unbaked, and let the lucky recipient cook it up when ready.
Enjoy, and tell me if you do!

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  1. Jenny- Rodney and I made these for dinner tonight and they were FABULOUS!!! We thoroughly enjoyed them. Now what recipe of yours should I make next??? Mmmm. .There are too many good ones to choose from!

  2. I just saw this! I'm so glad you guys enjoyed the recipe! I hope to have lots more fab things coming!