- 2L (8 cups) organic milk
- 60ml ( 1/4 cup) lemon juice
- 400g dried giant pasta shells (see note)
- 3 eggs
- 2 bunches English spinach, trimmed, washed
- 50g butter, chopped
- 50g (1/3 cup) plain flour
- 175g parmesan, finely grated
- 1 large pinch of grated nutmeg
- 60ml (1/4 cup) pouring cream
- 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 80g walnuts, roughly chopped
- Step 1To make ricotta, bring milk almost to the boil in a large, heavy-based pan. Add lemon juice and 1 teaspoon salt, reduce heat to low–medium and simmer, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until mixture curdles and forms curds. Strain ricotta through a sieve lined with muslin, a clean Chux cloth or linen tea towel into a bowl. Reserve the liquid (whey).
- Step 2Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 8 minutes. Add eggs to same pan and cook for a further 8 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Drain, then peel eggs (see Home Page, page 138, for tips). Reserve pasta.
- Step 3Meanwhile, cook spinach in a saucepan of boiling water for 3 minutes or until wilted. Drain, rinse under cold running water and squeeze dry. Reserve pan.
- Step 4To make sauce, heat butter in reserved pan over medium heat, add flour and stir until grainy. Gradually add 750ml (3 cups) reserved whey, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens. Stir in three-quarters of the parmesan, nutmeg and cream. Season. Set aside.
- Step 5Preheat oven to 190C. Grease a 30cm square ovenproof dish. Roughly chop spinach and eggs, place in a bowl and combine with homemade ricotta and parsley. Spoon 1½ tablespoons ricotta mixture into each pasta shell, then place shells in dish. Pour over sauce, then scatter with remaining parmesan and walnuts. Bake for 25 minutes or until heated through and the edges of pasta shells are golden.
Commercial ricotta is a by-product of cheese manufacture, made from the leftover whey. A version can be made easily at home from full-cream milk.
Dried pasta shells is available from delis and greengrocers.
- Author: Sophia Young
- Image credit: Chris Chen
- Publication: MasterChef