By Claire Marshall RD
Italian food is almost always a crowd-pleaser. Stuffed shells are versatile: you can make them vegetarian, add meat, or customize to your preferences. By reducing the amount of full fat cheese, using low fat substitutes, and bulking up the filling with tasty vegetables, you can make this pasta dish part of a healthy diet.
- 1 package jumbo pasta shells, prepared as directed (about 30 jumbo shells)
- 28 oz. pasta sauce (look for one with low sodium, low added sugar)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 8 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and diced
- 2 cups spinach (or kale, or Swiss chard), cleaned and dried, torn into small pieces
- 2 cups reduced fat ricotta cheese
- 1 cup fat free cottage cheese
- 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- ½ cup reduced fat shredded Italian blend cheese
Whole wheat jumbo shells would work well in this recipe, but I have trouble finding them in the store. Feel free to add cooked, lean beef, chicken, or even tofu to the filling if desired.
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray, and add enough pasta sauce to coat the bottom. Let prepared pasta shells cool to room temperature.
- In a skillet over medium heat, sauté diced onions and mushrooms until softened, about 7-8 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
- In a large bowl, combine spinach, ricotta, cottage cheese, Parmesan, and egg. Add in cooled vegetables and mix well to combine.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of filling to each shell and arrange in the baking dish. Cover with additional sauce.
- Bake, covered with foil, for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven, cover with cheese, and bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes until cheese is melted.
Approximate nutrition information, per 3 shells: 280 calories, 8 grams fat, 37 grams carbohydrate, 16 grams of protein