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Vegetable and Four Cheese Stuffed Shells

Boy, the Italians sure know what they are doing with food. I could stay happily fed for the rest of my life with all the varieties of cheese, pasta and red sauce from that region. This by far my favorite vegetarian dinner. Full of spinach and broccoli and oozing with cheesy goodness wrapped in a pasta shell and smothered with rich tomato sauce. You could easily turn this into a lasagna by layering the cheese mixture with noodles and sauce. Or, mini individual  appetizers by layering it with wonton wrappers, and sauce in a muffin tin. All of them would be absolutely delicious!

Start with cheese. Lots of cheese. This dish is an equal opportunity cheese employer.

Add two kinds of green veggies. Which, totally makes this a healthy meal despite all the cheese, right?

You can use fresh or frozen spinach, but don’t substitute fresh broccoli…it won’t get cooked/soft in the time this dish bakes. Mix it all together.

Fill some shells (or manicotti), place atop sauce, sprinkle with cheese and bake.

Gorgeous! And yum yummy!

Vegetable & Four Cheese Stuffed Shells
(adapted from Women’s Day)

  • 16  jumbo shells (from a 12-oz box), cooked per package directions
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 10-oz package frozen leaf spinach, thawed (or use fresh, wilted and chopped)
  • 1 16-oz package frozen broccoli florets, thawed
  • 1 15-oz container part-skim ricotta
  • 1/2 cup small curd cottage cheese
  • 2 ounces Parmesan, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 ounces part-skim mozzarella, grated (about 1 cup)

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool.
  2. Spread the sauce onto the bottom of a large broiler-proof baking dish.
  3. Squeeze the spinach of excess moisture, roughly chop and place in a large bowl. Chop the broccoli and add it to the bowl. Stir in the ricotta, Parmesan, cottage cheese, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into the shells (about 1/4 cup each) and place on top of the sauce.
  4. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and bake until the shells are heated through, 10 to 12 minutes. Increase heat to broil. Broil the shells until the cheese begins to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
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