White Pizza Stuffed Shells
I'm always that person who orders the salad at a restaurant or the overloaded veggie pizza when we go out, and it sounds like a good way to not have to share anything with anyone else (it is) but I've always had an elevated taste. Matt thinks it's hilarious that one of my favorite foods ever is the chicken flavored instant ramen, because he finds it so bland, which is preposterous, but to each his own I guess?
My favorite pizza that you can make from home is one I can't even find anymore. Newman's Own spinach and white pizza. It's a square. You made it in the oven. Spinach, garlic, white sauce, mozzarella, a win win win win.
I know they have a different variation out nowadays but it's not the same and it's because it's not square, okay?
I was daydreaming about eating that pizza and thought "I need to figure out how to make a white pizza sauce that will fill this void in my heart now that I can't have what I really want"... then I had this thought of stuffed shells. I really don't like making pizza dough, it's really my father-in-law's wheelhouse. He knows what to do, it always comes out good, and I will be honest since I've had his I never even try to make my own.
BUT THE FLAVOR. Like I said, no one likes my taste in pizza or restaurant choices, so I'm on my own with this in my household and I like it that way. I made the executive decision to try make stuffed shells with the white pizza toppings and replace the marinara with a fantastic white pizza sauce. It. was. delicious.
You will need:
1 box of large shells
2 CUPS ricotta cheese
1 CUP mozzarella
1/2 CUP fresh baby spinach, chopped up
a pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne
salt + pepper to taste, about 1/4 tsp
1/4 tsp dried oregano, more for sprinkling at the end
1/2 CUP parmesan cheese
1 + 1/2 CUP whole milk or half and half or a combination
3 cloves minced garlic
2 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP flour
What to do:
Begin by mixing the components for the filling; ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, chopped spinach, nutmeg, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, once boiling pour in the shells carefully to avoid breaking, then follow box instructions, reduce two minutes of cooking time in the water so the noodles don't overcook in the oven. Mine was to cook 8-10 minutes, so I cooked between 7 and 8 minutes then drained right away, and set aside to cook.
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
While you wait for the boiling water and the pasta to cook, make your white sauce, starting by heating the olive oil in a skillet or pan (I used my non-stick pan I like to use the handle to swirl it around) and heat the oil, use your judgement hold your hand over the oil after swirling it around and see if you feel heat radiating, carefully.
Add garlic cook for 3 minutes or until fragrant.
Add the flour a tablespoon at a time, and the oregano, salt and pepper, whisking, whisking, whisking. Do this until you start to see some little bubbles forming.
Pour in the half and half or milk and keeping whisking another 3 minutes until it's visibly thick.
Remove from heat and seat aside to stuff the shells.
Grease a baking dish, spread a layer across and smooth it around the cover as much of the bottom as you can.
Stuff the shells with the ricotta/mozzarella/spinach mixture.
Pour a nice hearty layer of sauce all over the shells.
Sprinkle another layer of mozzarella and a dusting of crushed red pepper over the top.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the cheese on top is golden and bubbly.
Before serving sprinkle some parmesan and dried oregano for garnish.