20 large pasta shells
1 can whole plum tomatoes (28 ounces), preferably San Marzano
3 tablespoons butter, melted
7-8 leaves basil, torn
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
1 box chopped frozen spinach (10 ounces), defrosted or 3/4 pound fresh baby spinach, chopped
A few grates of fresh nutmeg
1 box frozen baby or regular artichoke hearts (10 ounces), defrosted and chopped
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon thyme leaves, chopped
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Pre-heat the oven to 375ºF.
Place a large pot of water over high heat to boil the pasta. When the water reaches a bubble, salt it well, drop in the shells and cook them to al dente, according to the package directions. Drain the cooked shells and shock them under cold water to stop them from cooking. Reserve.
While the shells are cooking, mash up the tomatoes in the bottom of a casserole dish. Stir the butter, basil and some salt and pepper, to taste, into the dish and set aside.
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with two turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add the garlic to the pan and cook until it's aromatic and light golden brown, about 1 minute. Add the spinach and nutmeg to the pan and cook to heat through.
Transfer the spinach to a large bowl and stir in the artichokes, ricotta, Parmigiano Reggiano, lemon zest, thyme, egg yolk, parsley and some salt and pepper. Fill the reserved pasta shells with the mixture, arranging them on top of the sauce in the casserole dish as you complete them.
Cover the casserole with foil and transfer it to the oven. Bake, covered, for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and turn the oven up to 425˚F. Continue cooking until the filling is golden brown and bubbly, about 15 minutes more.
Serve four shells to each person topped with some of the sauce. This is one of many "Yum-o!" recipes – it's good and good for you. To find out more about Yum-o!, Rachael's nonprofit organization, go to www.yum-o.org.