Unstuffed Florentine Shells
Come to the dinner hungry for this pasta dish of ricotta and spinach topped with melted mozzarella and Pecorino Romano.
- 1 bag organic frozen spinach (16 ounces), defrosted
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk
- A pinch of nutmeg, or to taste
- 1 pound medium shell pasta
- 1 1/2 cups fresh sheep’s milk or cow’s milk ricotta
- 1/2 pound mozzarella, diced or shredded
- 1 cup Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, shredded
Wring the spinach dry in a clean kitchen towel. Using your fingers, loosen the leaves.
Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and pre-heat the broiler.
In a skillet, heat the EVOO, one turn of the pan, over medium heat. Melt the butter into the EVOO and when it foams, add the onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, 3-5 minutes, to soften. Stir in the flour and cook for another minute. Whisk in the milk and cook until thickened, 5-7 minutes. Season with nutmeg and reduce the heat to low.
Salt the boiling water and cook the pasta to al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water and add to the sauce to thin a bit. Add the spinach to the pasta pot, stir, then drain and toss with the sauce; season. Arrange in a casserole dish and dot with the ricotta. Top with the mozzarella and Pecorino Romano and broil until browned, 6-8 minutes.