>Spring Shells and Cheese


Dear creators of Tastespotting,

I love you. Although I dislike that anytime I visit your page, hunger consumes me and I am immediately in need of making/eating everything that I see. Nevertheless, thank you for putting every wonderful foodblogger’s recipes smack dab in front of me. every day. Also, thank you for making it so easy to search for a specific item that I want to use that evening and coming up with wonderful options. You have made my life so much more delicious and satisifying, and I am forever indebted towards you because of it.


So yes. I went on taste spotting, typed in “Shells” and came up with a slew of wonderful recipes but then there was this one…

There was this recipe that looked so utterly delicious and then I went to this food blog’s page and not only fell in love with the recipe but became an immediate fan of the two guys behind it…probably because they too were based in DC. I secretly wanted to meet them and become friends but that’s a little stalkerish and crazy, so I just to make this delicious recipe and call it a day.

Adapted From: http://www.thebittenword.com/thebittenword/2010/05/spring-shells-and-cheese.html


• 2 pounds medium zucchini
• Kosher salt I used regular salt
• 1 stick unsalted butter
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg * I used regular nutmeg
• Pinch of cayenne pepper
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 6 cups whole milk * I only used about 2-3 cups and I am also certain that you could have used heavy cream as your base
• 4 sprigs fresh thyme
• 3 bay leaves * Omitted these (but probably would just give it more flavor)
• Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
• 1 pound medium pasta shells
• 4 shallots, minced * I just used one small white onion
• 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
• 4 ounces parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
• 4 ounces gruyere cheese, grated (about 1 1/4 cups)
• 4 ounces baby spinach


1) Grate the zucchini into a colander using the large holes of a box grater. Toss with 1 tablespoon salt, then place in the sink to drain, about 15 minutes. Squeeze out the excess liquid.

2) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.

3) Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, nutmeg, cayenne, 2 teaspoons salt, and black pepper to taste and mix with a wooden spoon to make a paste.

4) Cook, stirring, until the paste puffs slightly, about 3 minutes.

5) Slowly whisk in the milk, then add the thyme, and lemon zest and bring to a boil, stirring.

6) Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Strain into a bowl.

7) Meanwhile, position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.

8) Drain and add to the sauce.

9) Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat.

10) Add the onions and cook until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.

11) Add the zucchini and cook, stirring, until almost tender, about 4 minutes.

12) Add the zucchini mixture to the pasta along with the egg yolks and all but 3 tablespoons of both cheeses; stir to combine, then add the spinach.

13) Transfer the mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and sprinkle with the reserved cheeses. Bake until browned on top and heated through, 15 to 20 minutes.

14) Enjoy and Share!

It appears that there are a lot of steps but it really is not that time consuming. I definitely recommend this for a group of buds getting together for a potluck style evening dinner. No formalities needed just an appetite required. Oh and did I mention that the leftovers are maybe better then the original? Yeah, that just happened.


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