We're eating boats for dinner, boys, I told them. Sailing ships filled with cargo. I hope they don't sink.
We fetched the boats from the pantry. They were large pasta shells about two inches from bow to stern. They were 24 of them. I boiled them and drained them and put them in cold water.
To fill them, we needed 500g spinach, 500g fresh ricotta, 100g mozzarella, 50g parmesan, two eggs, a good dash of nutmeg and three cloves of garlic.
I melted the spinach: took a bunch of it, rinsed it, placed it in a pan with the water it held after rinsing, threw in a dash of olive oil and a scored clove of garlic, put the lid on the pan and heated the spinach slowly until it turned to green mush.
Then I mixed the spinach with the ingredients in the third paragraph in a large bowl along with a gust of salt and a gale of pepper. Then we loaded up the boats to their upper foredecks. That was fun, especially for the boys. There was ricotta mixture on the ceiling. How did that get there?
Then I poured a cup and a half of napoli sauce into a casserole (or baking dish with foil) and lowered the the laden boats into the red sea of spicy basil-infused tomato. It reached halfway up their rounded hulls, so I tipped in another cup or so of sauce and placed the lid on the casserole. You might use more or less sauce depending on dish dimension, shell size, prevailing wind etc. It went into the oven for an hour. (Baking time similarly flexible. Check them after 45 minutes.)
The boys enjoyed their boats. So did we. They went very nicely with a stormy purple Heathcote shiraz.