Shells with Crispy Pancetta and Spinach

  • For the Shells
  • 340g jumbo shells pasta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 230g thick-cut pancetta, cut into 2-cm cubes
  • 230g frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 420g whole milk ricotta
  • 90g grated asiago cheese
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • For the Sauce
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 240ml cream
  • 180g grated asiago cheese, plus 20g
  • 15g chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375°F.

For the shells:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

Warm the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Remove the pancetta from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large bowl. Add the spinach, ricotta cheese, asiago cheese, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Stuff the shells with about 2 tablespoons of the spinach mixture each and place the stuffed shells in a large, buttered baking dish.

For the sauce:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to very low and add the 2 cups asiago cheese, parsley, and pepper. Stir until the cheese is dissolved. Pour the sauce over the shells. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup asiago cheese. Bake until golden on top, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

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