Monday, March 15, 2010

Stuffed Shells

Remember that big batch of Ragu a la Bolognese that I made?  Well, it found second life as another Italian meal...Stuffed Shells!  And, I found that though I found the sauce over spaghetti alone to be just so-so, it was AMAZING over these shells and was a great way to add some meat to an otherwise vegetarian dish.  I mean, its use in this dish just might have changed my overall opinion of that sauce.  Maybe the Ragu just needed some extra days to blend in my fridge? 

In addition to re-purposing my sauce, I had many large shell pastas leftover from the time that I made Tacos in Pasta Shells and some tomatoes, spinach, and red pepper from the Chicken Palava (African Peanut Stew) so this utilized quite a bit of material from my pantry and fridge.  I love those types of meals, don't you? 

I'm always amazed by how you can take the same/similar ingredients and then make them into something entirely new with which to tantilize the tastebuds.  In fact, I actually made another meal later in the week (Chicken Bruschetta - to be posted soon!) that had some lightly flavored balsamic vegetables leftover.  I put those extra veggies on top of some leftover stuffed shells and phew that was one DELICIOUS leftovers luch.  Gourmet!

This one is very versitile and can be prepared the night before and popped into the oven when you get home from work to create a quick meal.  I used a recipe to form the basis of the dish and then like I said, just threw in some leftover this and leftover that in to add color and nutrition to the meal.  I'll post exactly what I used for this recipe but like I said, feel free to modify to your tastes.

Stuffed Shells
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Prep Time: 25 Min
Cook Time: 25-35 Min
Ready In: 50-65 Min
Yields: 4-6 Servings


  • 1/2 (16 ounce) package jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 cups large curd cottage cheese
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) italian blend cheese, shredded and divided
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 2-3 cups fresh spinach, washed and dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 (26 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce (used about 2 or 3 cups of Ragu a la Bolognese)
  1. Cook shells according to package directions. Place in cold water to stop cooking. Drain.
  2. Mix together cottage cheese, egg, garlic powder, and dried herbs.  Mix in prepared vegetables and 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) of shredded italian cheese. Stuff mixture generously into the shells.
  3. Spread a thin layer of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan. Place shells open side up, and close together in pan. Spread remaining sauce over top, taking care to cover the shells to avoid them drying out during baking.  If making ahead, cover dish and place in refrigerator at this time. 
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 15 to 25 minutes.  If dish is refrigerated, add 15 minutes to initial cooking time.  Then sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup (2 ounces) of shredded Italian cheese over top of shells and return to oven for another 10 minutes or until hot and bubbly. 
  5. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.  Serve with a green salad and garlic bread, if desired.
Source: Inspired by All Recipes

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