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Shells Baked With Spinach Herbs And Walnuts

<p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/cookingforvegans/3721103467/">Image Credit</a></p>
Ingredients
  Finely chopped onions 1 1⁄4 Cup (20 tbs)
  Bay leaves/1 dried bay leaf 2
  Garlic clove 1 Small, peeled, finely minced
  Unsalted butter 2 Tablespoon
  Extra virgin olive oil 2 Tablespoon
  Sea salt 1⁄2 Teaspoon
  Heavy cream 2 1⁄2 Cup (40 tbs)
  Baby spinach/Borage/watercress/chicory leaves 4 Cup (64 tbs)
  Baby arugula 1 Cup (16 tbs)
  Finely chopped fresh sage 1 Teaspoon
  Finely chopped basil 1⁄2 Teaspoon
  Chopped marjoram 1 Teaspoon
  Chopped summer savory 1⁄4 Teaspoon
  Finely chopped chives 2 Teaspoon
  Finely chopped walnuts 1 Cup (16 tbs)
  Fontina cheese 1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs), cubed
  Freshly grated pecorino romano 1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs)
  Grated parmigiano reggiano 1 Cup (16 tbs)
  Freshly grated nutmeg 1 Teaspoon
  Sour cream/Creme fraiche 3 Tablespoon
  Dried conchiglie rigate/Ridged pasta shells 1 Pound
Directions

1. Combine the onions, bay leaves, garlic, butter, olive oil, and salt in a small saucepan. Saute over moderately low heat until the onions and garlic are very soft and completely cooked through, about 15 minutes. Add the cream and scald—heat just until little bubbles form around the outside edge. Set aside off the heat for 30 minutes to steep together.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Heat the oven to 500 degrees.
3. In another saucepan, drop the spinach and arugula leaves in boiling salted water. Cook, stirring often, until the greens are wilted, about 2 minutes. Drain in a colander.
4. When the greens are cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much water as possible. Transfer to a cutting board and finely chop. Combine the chopped greens, sage, basil, marjoram, summer savory, and chives in a large mixing bowl. Add the walnuts, fontina, Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a good scraping of nutmeg (a microplane is the ideal tool for this). Remove and discard the bay leaves and add the cooled cream and sour cream to the mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Taste and add salt if necessary. Set aside.
5. Generously salt the boiling water and drop in the pasta. Cook, stirring often, to parboil, 4 to 5 minutes (the pasta will be too hard to eat; it will continue to cook in the oven). Drain the shells, reserving about 1 cup of the water. Toss the pasta with the ingredients in the mixing bowl until well combined; you want the shells to capture some of the walnuts, herbs, and cheese in their crannies. Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water and toss again. Transfer to individual shallow baking dishes or a large shallow gratin dish. There should be ample liquid surrounding the pasta. If not, nap with additional pasta water. Bake until bubbly and hot, with some of the pasta shells browning on top. Serve right away.

Recipe Summary

Difficulty Level: 
Medium
Cuisine: 
Italian
Course: 
Side Dish
Method: 
Baked
Interest: 
Holiday, Gourmet
Ingredient: 
Spinach

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