- Rachael Ray's non profit organization, Yum-o! - https://www.yum-o.org -

Unstuffed Shells


  • 1 bag organic, frozen spinach (16 ounces), defrosted
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • Nutmeg, to taste
  • 1 pound medium shell pasta (about 1-inch shells dry)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh sheep’s milk or cow’s milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, diced or shredded
  • 1 cup shredded Pecorino (sheep’s milk) or Parmigiano Reggiano (cow’s milk) cheese


  1. Wring the spinach dry in a clean dishtowel. Separate with your fingers to loosen.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
  3. Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and pre-heat the broiler.
  4. Heat the olive oil, a turn of the pan, in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Melt the butter into the oil; when it foams, add the onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and stir for 3-5 minutes to soften. Stir in the flour for 1 minute or so. Whisk in the milk and let thicken; season with nutmeg, to taste, and reduce the heat to low to keep warm.
  5. Salt the boiling water and cook the shells to al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water and add it to the milk sauce to thin it a bit. Add the spinach to the pasta pot to heat; stir, then drain the pasta and spinach and toss with the sauce, adjusting the salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange in a casserole dish and dot with the ricotta cheese mixed with the lemon zest and thyme. Top with the mozzarella and grated cheese and broil until brown and bubbly. Serve immediately.