- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 (12-ounce) box jumbo pasta shells (18 to 20 shells)
- 2 cups finely chopped onion
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 pound ground veal
- 1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Essence, recipe follows
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Basic Red Sauce, recipe follows
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and the pasta shells, and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally with a long-handled spoon to prevent the shells from sticking together. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Drain.
In a medium skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until very soft, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the ground veal and cook, stirring, until cooked and browned. Add the squeezed spinach and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese, and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Add the spinach mixture, the extra-virgin olive oil, Essence, remaining teaspoon of salt, the basil, oregano, and pepper, and stir to combine thoroughly. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the spinach-ricotta filling into each cooked pasta shell. Place the filled shells in the prepared dish.
Pour the Basic Red Sauce over the filled shells and top with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Bake, uncovered, until bubbly, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
- 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.
Yield: about 2/3 cup
Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.
Basic Red Sauce:
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/2 chopped yellow onion
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 16 ounces whole peeled tomatoes, broken into pieces, and their juices
- 16 ounces tomato sauce
- 4 teaspoons tomato paste
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, salt, basil, oregano, and pepper, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, and sugar and stir well. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until thickened and fragrant, 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from the heat and keep warm until ready to use.
Yield: 3 cups