It's hard to cook for your family and dinner guests when you are on a diet. That is why these stuffed shells are a great dinner option that can feed a crowd. This is a basic stuffed shells recipe that, if you use part-skim ricotta, lean ground turkey and low-fat mozzarella, can also be a non-cheat meal to get excited about. You can use your favorite sauce from a jar, or use the crushed tomatoes and seasonings as I did. I also added some zucchini left over from the pizza to the sauce. YUM!
Spinach Stuffed Shells
12 oz. Jumbo Shells 1/2 onion, chopped 2 tsp minced garlic 1 tsp olive oil 1/2 lb lean ground turkey, cooked and drained 32 oz. crushed tomatoes 1 TBSP basil salt and pepper
2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese 2 cups (divided) reduced fat mozzarella cheese, finely shredded 1 egg 10 oz. package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry 1/4 cup Parmesan
In a large pot, boil water and cook noodles according to package directions.
In a deep frying pan, pour oil and add onions. Saute until soft and and then add garlic. Saute until garlic is softened. Add the browned turkey, crushed tomatoes, basil and salt and pepper to taste with the onions and garlic. Add additional seasonings to sauce according to taste. Cover and simmer on low.
In a separate bowl, combine cheeses (reserve 1 cup of mozzarella for topping), egg and spinach.
When your shells are cooked and cooled, fill with about 1 TBSP of cheese mixture. Place shells in a 9x13 dish with a thin layer of sauce on the bottom. Cover the shells with the remaining sauce and cheese. Cover with foil and bake in 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes. Remove foil and cook for 5 minutes more.
If you like lots of sauce, prepare extra or use some from a jar to pour over the shells when serving. I didn't think it needed extra sauce but my husband thought that the recipe have used a little more flavor. (He also had a head cold, so I'm going to go with the theory that his olfactory senses were off, thus giving the illusion of tastelessness.) Right?
As you can see, I plated this with a small green salad and some ummmm....half eaten bread. I was hungry and I forgot that I hadn't taken the picture yet! It just smelled so good and again, took me back to Italy. We would buy these bagels in Bari that were cut in half and dried out in the oven so they were like the texture of a crouton. Very hard and crunchy. Well, my Italian friend, Antonella Raimondo, told me that the best way to eat them is to warm it in the oven and then take it out and drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt on top. I was so young and naive back then because I thought that sounded disgusting. Imagine! Well, I tried it (to get the full Italian experience) and quickly became a fan. Here, I used my Arnold's sandwich thin and dried it out in the oven and drizzled a tsp of olive oil on top and sprinkled a little bit of salt. Just as I remembered. Simple, but so good.
This does feed a crowd. There are about 33-35 shells. 3 prepared shells= about 6.5 WW points.
I love to bake and cook, but it seems like I am always on a diet. To keep my sanity, I give myself one "cheat day " a week. On that day I have permission to splurge a little. I'd hate to do a cooking blog that was all healthy recipes, so I created Cheat Day Cafe so that I could share some of my non-diet recipes too. Cheat days make life more interesting! So here is a collection of healthy, real person, family recipes and a few "cheats" thrown in for fun.