You either grow up in a sports family or you don't and us? We're a big sports family. We spent nearly every waking Sunday watching one of the following teams play: Dodgers, Raiders, Rams, Lakers, Kings, and even the now-defunct indoor soccer team known as The Lazers.
And there is such a thing as too much sports spectating - but rather than write off the Super Bowl, overexposure means I get into the game. I'm the most dangerous type of football fan of all because I'm as fair-weather as they come yet as passionate as can be. So, each year on that fated afternoon, I channel my father and I doggedly watch, heckle, yell, and even pound my fist out of frustration a coupla times -- even if I have no real interest in the outcome.
All that aside, this year I'm making this twist on the classic ricotta-and-spinach-stuffed shells. That pasta dish was in regular rotation growing up and it was quite possibly my favorite comfort food. For game day, I upped the ante and threw in some chorizo for a bit more heft and a smoky note, which makes for a winner. So, no matter who wins on Sunday, I'm certain that there will be no arguments about this recipe. Unless we run out -- then all bets are off.
about 25 to 30 shells
plus more for the pan
removed from casing and crumbled
stemmed and leaves finely chopped
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Rinse under cold water and pat dry thoroughly.
Shells can be cooked off up to four days ahead. Oil lightly to prevent from sticking, cool, then store refrigerated in an airtight container.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and chorizo and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings and return the pan (with the chorizo and onions still in it) to the stove.
Add tomatoes, season with sugar, salt, and freshly ground black pepper, and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, at least 10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, coat 2.5 to 3-quart baking dish with oil and set aside.
If the tomatoes are particularly sour, you may need to add additional sugar. Sauce can be made up to four days ahead and stored refrigerated in an airtight container.
Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix to evenly combine.
Spoon half of the sauce in prepared dish. Stuff each pasta shell with a heaping tablespoon of the filling and arrange the stuffed shells in the dish. Spoon remaining sauce over the shells and cover with aluminum foil.
Shells can be assemble up to two days ahead. Store refrigerated until ready to bake.
Bake until pasta is cooked through and sauce begins to bubble, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Pasta can be made up to two days ahead. Reheat in a 300°F oven until warmed through.
Photo by Robin Jolin // Food Styling by Aida Mollenkamp