Many times, I don’t crave anything in particular for dinner. But this week, I’ve had a hankering for Italian. It might be the cold. Or the smell of my neighborhood. Or the fact that I really miss my Mom’s tomato sauce (and her!). Whatever it is, I had all the ingredients for stuffed shells on hand, so it was meant to be! I’ve saved a lot of money lately by actually assessing the ingredients in my fridge and cupboards and planning a meal, instead of planning a meal before assessing and wasting money! Tonight was another one of those nights. I came sooo close to heading to the store for vegetables in order to make veggie lasagna, but a quick look inside my fridge and thoughts of the arctic temperatures outside changed my mind abruptly!
I headed to my friend Lauren’s blog after briefly recalling her healthy stuffed shells recipe, and voila! I found it! Read her original recipe here. This recipe requires minimal ingredients but is full of flavor and is incredibly simple to construct. While the spinach is sautéing and the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheese mix. Then, while the shells bake, wash the dishes like I did! (this prevented me from opening the oven a zillion times). Hey, whatever gets you through the 30 minutes to cheese-heaven!
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ bag frozen spinach (or about 4 cups of fresh spinach)
18 medium pasta shells (or use jumbo and use fewer)
1 15 oz container part-skim ricotta cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Italian seasoning or seasoning of your choice ( I used garlic powder!)1 1/2 cups marinara sauce of choice, divided ( I used a roasted garlic flavor…delish!)
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté, about 30 seconds. Add in spinach and stir until wilted down. (If you use frozen spinach like me, dry out the spinach as much as possible before adding it to the pan). Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
3) Cook pasta shells, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
4) In a mixing bowl, combine the sautéed spinach, ricotta cheese, beaten egg, Parmesan cheese, and seasonings. Mix well.
5) Spread 1/2 cup marinara sauce over the bottom of a baking dish.
6) Spoon ricotta cheese mixture evenly into the cooked pasta shells; then place stuffed shells side-by-side in the baking dish. Spoon the remaining marinara sauce over the stuffed shells, and top with the shredded mozzarella cheese.
7) Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned and bubbly.
I’m now sufficiently stuffed! I also have leftovers to feed a family of 12… seriously! I foresee many nights of stuffed shells in my near future. Fine by me. Now I’m craving garlic bread…. :)