Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Baked pasta shells with three cheeses and spinach.

I usually make lasagna from scratch but of the frozen ones from supermarkets, the Aldi 2kg pack is very good value at $8.99 and looks and tastes like the real thing. The front of the pack proclaims that it 'serves ten', so I put it to the test.

I cut the cooked lasagne into sections and served them, and the children (age 11, 10 and 6) despatched these in minutes. Second serves disappeared likewise. Alex dropped out first, but she hadn't played two hours of football. It was a race to the finish for Thomas and William but William prevailed. The pack served three. Three children. But it was still excellent quality and good value: these children eat like horses. Or is the expression "I could eat a horse"? I can never remember.

Another variation on the baked pasta category is one I have made many times over the years and may have posted once or twice in this blog.

Baked giant pasta shells.

You can find the large ones at Italian delis (such as T-Deli in Sydney Rd, Mediterranean Wholesalers, Gervasi etc).

These shells grow to about two inches from bow to stern once you've cooked them, and you'll need a baking dish large enough to accommodate them. I made 24, boiling until just softening, then draining and running them through cold water to stop them softening any further.

I filled them flat with a mixture of 500g thawed frozen spinach, 500g fresh ricotta, 100g mozzarella, 50g parmesan, two eggs, a good dash of nutmeg and three smashed cloves of garlic.

Set them in the dish and pour in enough napoli sauce to reach almost to the tops of the loaded shells. It's easier to put the sauce in first once you know the plimsoll line of the shells. I baked the foil-topped dish (the lid broke years ago) for an hour on 180, but oven times vary.

Serves three.

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