Editor's note: Each Saturday afternoon we bring you a Sunday Supper recipe. Why on Saturday? So you have time to shop and prepare for tomorrow.
Despite looking showy, stuffed pasta is not all that difficult to make. I love the combination of bright tomato sauce and creamy béchamel; however, the latter is a pain in the neck to make.
Naturally, when I came across Jamie Oliver's béchamel alternative in Jamie's Dinners, I was intrigued. Now, it's my go-to for this type of thing.
I bumped up the flavor of the red sauce by adding chopped onion and wine. It does benefit from a pinch of sugar to minimize the acidity, but you don't need much. I also find adding an egg to the ricotta helps bind the filling, especially useful when using run-of-the-mill grocery store cheese. That said, I recommend making a trip to an Italian deli since drier, almost crumbly ricotta lends superior results.
Regarding the creamy topping, lemon zest really enlivens it. The original recipe calls for anchovies. Feel free to mince a few and add them in, but eliminate the nutmeg if you do.
Feel free to swap the spinach for herbs. You can add Italian sausage, if you'd like. This is a catch-all dish that's easy to customize. Honestly, though, I prefer the vegetarian take—rest assured you won't miss the meat.
Note: The dish may be assembled a day in advance. Just place it in the refrigerator, covered and unbaked. Before cooking, remove it from the refrigerator and allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to cooking.
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About the author: Jennifer Olvera is a veteran food and travel writer and author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Chicago." Follow her on Twitter @olverajennifer.