Ok, I am officially 9 recipes into my self-imposed challenge to do Rachael Ray’s top 10 recipes of 2010!
Number 8 was the slow cooker honey lemon chicken, which was the 2nd recipe that I’ve tried that I just really didn’t like. There was not much taste to it. Looked beautiful in the crock pot but…yea…kinda lacking in the taste department. Here’s a gander:
But, number 9 was the baked shells casserole. And oh yes, this one was fantastic! A little more involved than her other recipes, but totally worth it! A layered casserole dish with a homemade marinara sauce and a noodle mixture with ricotta cheese, spinach, onions, and garlic…yep, definitely my kinda dinner!
Baked Shells Casserole
from Rachael Ray
- 5 TB olive oil, divided
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped, divided
- 1 large onion, finely chopped, divided
- 1 small carrot, finely chopped or grated
- 1 1/2 tsp oregano or marjoram
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to your own spicy-ness meter!
- 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
- 2 TB chopped fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup dry white or red wine
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 28-ounce cans Italian crushed tomatoes
- 1 lb medium or large shell pasta
- 2 boxes frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and wrung dry
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 2 cups ricotta cheese (I used part skim)
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
In a large pot, heat 3 TB olive oil over medium heat. Add about 4 cloves of the chopped garlic, 3/4 cup of the chopped onion, and the carrot. Season with salt, pepper, oregano or marjoram, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, and thyme. Saute about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add parsley, stir, then add wine. Reduce for about a minute or two.
Add in chicken stock and tomatoes, bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes.
After sauce has been simmering 30 minutes, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bring a pot of water to a boil for pasta. Salt water and boil pasta for 5 minutes.
While pasta is boiling, heat remaining 2 TB olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add remaining garlic and onion and saute for a couple of minutes. Add spinach, separating it as you’re adding it to the pan. Stir well. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Turn off heat.
Drain undercooked pasta, return to hot pan. Add spinach mixture to pasta and stir. Add ricotta and parmesan and stir well. Adjust salt and pepper to your liking. Add eggs and stir well.
Pour a thin layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish (I used an 11 x 7 inch Corningware dish). Spoon the noodle mixture on top of the sauce. Spoon another layer of marinara sauce on top of the noodles.
Reserve the remaining sauce to pass around the table on top of each serving. Bake dish for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Garnish each serving with additional sauce and additional parmesan cheese (or mozzarella as I did!)