This recipe is a “shortcut” from the usual baked recipe, since the stuffing is cooked in a pan and not in the oven. But don’t get me wrong, it might be shorter in making time, but not at all in flavor. The pancetta (that you can substitute with bacon, I just happen to love its deep flavor) gives it a delicious rich taste.
Ingredients (serves 4):
1 12-ounce box jumbo pasta shells
2 cups of ricotta cheese (you can use part skim if you prefer)
2 cups of grated Parmesan cheese
1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups of baby portabella mushrooms (or you can use any type you like)
1/4 pound think-cut pancetta
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups of tomato sauce, store bought or home made
salt and pepper to taste
Heat 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil into a pan set to medium heat. Chop the mushrooms and the pancetta into similar size pieces, around 3/4 inch cubes. Ad the pancetta to the oil until it releases its own fats and slightly browns (about 3 minutes). Then ad the mushrooms, the spinach and the garlic and cook until the mushrooms change color and become tender (about 3 minutes more). Once the vegetables are cooked, ad the ricotta, 1 cup of the parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste, and stir until cheeses are melted and everything is well combined (about 2 minutes). Cook the pasta following the package instructions. To serve: fill the shells with the cheese and vegetable mixture, I just use a small spoon for this. Pour the tomato sauce in the bottom of a plate and place the stuffed shells on top. Sprinkle the remaining cup of parmesan cheese on top. Enjoy!
Tip: Pancetta, or italian bacon, is not smoked like regular bacon is but cured with salt and spices, and its flavor is absolutely unique and delicious. You can find it in most places in your grocery store’s deli section.