Baked Shells Casserole

Submitted by Patti Wilson

 

I saw this made on Rachael Ray, I made a few alterations, but it is DELICIOUS!!!  I am sending you how I made it.
 
5 TBSP EVOO - Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided


6 cloves garlic, finely chopped, divided
1 large onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 tsp oregano (I used dry)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (I used dried)
2 cups chicken stock
2 - 28 oz cans Italian crushed tomatoes
1 pound medium shell pasta
2 boxes frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and wrung dry
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Asiago cheese
2 TBSP Parmesan cheese
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten.
 
In medium pot, heat 3 TBSP EVOO.  Add 4 cloves of the chopped garlic and onion.  Season with salt, pepper, oregano and red pepper flakes and gently sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add in parsley, stock and tomatoes, bring sauce to a bubble, and then reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer for 45 minutes.
 
After sauce has been simmering for 30 minutes, preheat oven to 375º.
 
Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Salt water and cook pasta for 5 minutes.  
 
While pasta water comes to a boil, heat remaining EVOO in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add remaining garlic, sauté a few minutes.  Reduce heat; add spinach, pulling it apart and separating it as you add it to the pan.  Stir to combine well and season with salt and pepper.  Turn off heat.
 
Drain undercooked pasta and return it to the hot pot.  Add spinach mixture to pot with ricotta and Asiago cheese.  Stir to combine, then add eggs and stir.
 
In the bottom of a large casserole dish, spread half of the marinara sauce.  Fill dish with pasta mixture, then top with remaining marinara sauce.  Sprinkle with more Asiago if desired.  Bake 30 minutes until bubbly.  Let stand about 15 minutes before serving.
 
The "original recipe" can be found on the Rachael Ray website, "Baked Shells Casserole", aired January 11, 2010.  It calls for carrot, fennel seed, thyme, white wine, nutmeg and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  Some I didn't have (forgot to get at the store or got the wrong kind) and some I don't like the taste of.  So, I just "improvised".

 

If you like lots of sauce, make 1½ - 2 times the amount of sauce, putting some on the bottom of the casserole, some on top, then serve remaining at the table...to pour on top.