Sunday Stuffed Shells
It’s natural to think that since I’ve lived in the North End “Little Italy” of Boston for 4 years, I’d get sick of pasta…but it’s just not the case. Pizza, gnocchi, and Italian bread have become some of my favorite foods, and I let myself indulge in my favorites. The key is moderation! You can eat anything in moderation. Fortunately, it is possible to make your favorite Italian dishes healthier, without compromising the taste. With the help of part-skim ricotta, part-skim mozzarella cheese, 93/7 lean ground beef, and a healthy tomato sauce, I did just that with these stuffed shells. There’s absolutely no reason to feel guilty about this meal. Plus, it’s great to make ahead on a Sunday (or any day for that matter)and store it in the fridge for the work-week ahead. My taste-testers agreed, this one is a keeper!
1/2 box jumbo shells (you’ll need about 20 shells)
1 lb lean ground beef
2/3 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped (I used canned garlic)
1 jar marinara sauce of choice (I used a “classic chunky tomato” sauce)
1 (15 oz.) container part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1)Cook shells according to package direction. Remove from water and spread on paper towels or wax paper to cool.
2)While the shells are cooking, cook lean ground beef, onion, and garlic; drain off the fat and return to the pot. Stir in pasta sauce.
3)In a large mixing bowl, stir together ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and egg.
4)If shells are cool enough at this point, stuff the shells with the cheese mixture.
5)Cover the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with a thin layer of meat sauce mixture. Now lay shells into the dish. Spoon remaining meat sauce mixture over the stuffed shells, and top with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese.
6)Bake, loosely covered in foil, in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted. Remove foil and broil for a few minutes until the cheese is golden brown.
Of course, like most any recipe, you can adapt the stuffed shells to your liking. Vegetarian? Don’t include the meat. Want to include some greens? Add spinach to the cheese mixture. Stuffed shells can be made in a variety of ways…but trust me, this way won’t disappoint!