Blogs - Esno Etrews
A creamy sauce of zucchini, low-fat ricotta and walnuts reinterprets an Italian classic, and makes a wonderful, sophisticated dressing for baked pasta shells filled with a delicious spinach and bright green herbed stuffing.

Serves 4
Preparation time: 35 minutes, plus 5 minutes standing
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Ingredients for giant stuffed pasta shells
500 g spinach, trimmed
3 zucchini, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups (500 ml) vegetable stock
1 cup (250 g) ricotta
1 cup (100 g) walnuts, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup (75 g) freshly grated parmesan
1/4 cup (15 g) chopped fresh chervil or marjoram
1/4 cup (15 g) snipped fresh chives or 3 small French shallots, finely chopped
1/4 cup (15 g) chopped fresh basil
1 egg, lightly beaten
12 no-precook conchiglie grande (giant pasta shells for stuffing)
1/2 cup (65 g) grated edam cheese
2 tablespoons finely shredded fresh basil or tiny basil leaves
salt and pepper
Preparation for giant stuffed pasta shells
1 Wash the spinach well and place the wet leaves in a large saucepan. Cover and cook over a high heat for about 3 minutes, shaking the pan frequently. When the spinach is just tender and wilted, tip it into a colander and leave it to drain and cool.
2 Meanwhile, place the zucchini and half the garlic in a saucepan. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Cook over a high heat for about 3 minutes or until the zucchini are just tender.
3 Purée the zucchini and stock in a blender or food processor until smooth, adding half the ricotta, the walnuts, 2 tablespoons parmesan and seasoning to taste. The resulting sauce should have a consistency halfway between pouring and thick cream, slightly more runny than a coating sauce should be.
4 When the spinach is cool enough to handle, squeeze it dry in small handfuls and chop it coarsely. Mix the spinach with the chervil or marjoram, chives or shallots, basil, the remaining garlic and ricotta, the egg and seasoning to taste.
5 Preheat the oven to 190ºC. Use a small teaspoon to stuff the pasta shells with the spinach mixture, then arrange them in an ovenproof dish in a single layer.
6 Pour the sauce over the stuffed shells and sprinkle with the remaining grated parmesan. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
7 Sprinkle the edam cheese and basil over the cooked stuffed pasta and leave to stand for 5 minutes, uncovered, until the cheese melts, then serve.
Each serving provides 2638 kJ, 630 kcal, 34 g protein, 38 g fat (13 g saturated fat), 39 g carbohydrate (6 g sugars), 5.5 g fibre

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