Monday, August 8, 2011

Mmm, Mmm Monday- Stuffed Shells

There used to be a show called Cook Yourself Thin on Lifetime.  I loved it but it was canceled for some unknown reason.  Before it was, I snagged this great recipe that has become a staple in our house.  I've made many different versions, but this is the version I made this week.  I always half the recipe and it still makes enough to have leftovers.  It has all the great things I look for in a recipe:

Yummy: check

Healthy: check

Can be frozen or made ahead of time for an easy dinner: check, check

I'm going to give you the recipe for the full batch, which you can half if you choose.
What you'll need: baby spinach, jumbo pasta shells, Parmesan cheese, spaghetti sauce (jarred or homemade), mozzarella cheese, ricotta, salt, pepper, parsley, zucchini, and olive oil.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil.  Add your shells (about 15 for a half recipe) and partially cook until tender but firm to the bite, about 6-7 minutes. Drain, and transfer to an oiled cookie sheet to prevent sticking.
Cut your zucchini lengthwise, slice thin and saute with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Remove and allow to cool slightly.  Saute spinach with salt and pepper until wilted.  Drain, let cool, and then squeeze out moisture.  Chop and add to a medium sized bowl with the zucchini, 1 cup of ricotta, 3/4 cup mozzarella, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and 1 tablespoon chopped parsley. Mix well and adjust your seasonings as needed.
Spoon a thin layer of sauce onto the bottom of your baking dish.  Fill the shells with the cheese mixture (about 1 tablespoon) and arrange shells in a single layer.  Cover with sauce, 1/4 cup of mozzarella, and sprinkle with Parmesan.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 until heated through and the cheese is melted, about 25-30 minutes.

Reviews from the Peanut Gallery

Me: 5 out of 5 stars.  I love this recipe!  Even though this is meatless, it is still so filling!

Andy:  5 out of 5.  This is one of his favorites, and even though he isn't a big fan of zucchini or spinach, this recipe masks the vegetables really well.  He didn't even notice that it was completely vegetarian ans deemed it "the best ever."

Emma does not like "mixed" food.  She prefers to eat things that are deconstructed. She was a little hesitant to try it. 
It was Emma approved!

Stuffed Shells (whole recipe)

1 pound baby spinach
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise, and sliced thin
2 scallions, chopped (I omitted these from my version)
2 cups part skim ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded reduced fat mozzarella
1 thin slice of ham, chopped (I omitted this)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 box jumbo pasta shells
1 jar spaghetti sauce
salt and pepper

Spray a baking sheet lightly with cooking spray.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the shells, and partially cook.  They should become tender but firm to the bite, about 6-7 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer to the oiled baking sheet, spreading them out in a single layer.

Heat a skillet to medium heat. Add the spinach and salt to taste.  Cover and cook, tossing occasionally. Cook until wilted, about 5-6 minutes.  Drain, and let cook; then squeeze out liquid and chop.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Heat the skillet and olive oil to medium heat.  Add the zucchini and salt to taste.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes.  Add scallions during the final minute..  Add to the bowl with the spinach.  Add the ricotta, the ham, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, the parsley, pepper and more salt if needed.  Stir to combine.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking sheet.  Fill the cooked shells with the cheese mixture, about 1 tablespoon per shell, and arrange shells side by side in a single layer.  Spoon remaining sauce over the shells, then sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake until the filling is heated through and the cheese is melted, 25-30 minutes.

3 sweet somethings said:

Amber said... Best Blogger Tips

Mmm...I love this. You have reminded me that I need to fix it again very soon!

Tryna said... Best Blogger Tips

@AmberI have an even better idea; come over and I'll make it for you! :) We miss you guys!

HollowayHelpers said... Best Blogger Tips

Really like this one! Will have to try it! :)