If there is ONE thing I love more than stuffed shells, it is spending time with one of my best friends on this planet – Ashley.
We met one magical night on the way to our very first sorority social – a highlighter party. With so many black lights and our first encounter with boozey Apple Cider (which tasted so good, and then we soon found out that it was not booze-free after having had about 6 helpings each)… our friendship was sealed. Madness ensued, and has been ensuing ever since, eight years later despite the fact that DS has set numerous house fires at the Steiner Ranch during most, if not all, of Ashley's visits.
Ashley and I share our love for stuffed shells – what could be better than pasta? Um, that's easy. Pasta stuffed with cheese. Cmon people, that's not difficult. So, I made us some yummy stuffed shells and tried to make them as non-fat as possible (although I'm sure our eating two more of Peeta's Cheesy Buns did not help).
What You'll Need:
- 2-3 pieces of Italian turkey sausage (you can actually make this meat-free, as the sausage is not necessary)
- 1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce, plus 1/2 cup. I used a blush tomato sauce with spinach and parmesan cheese.
- 2 medium egg whites, beaten
- 1 package (about 1 1/2 cups) low fat ricotta cheese (part skim)
- 1 cup fresh spinach, ripped into small pieces
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning, dried (I use McCormick's)
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped basil
- 1 cup low fat/part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup parmesean cheese, grated (plus more for sprinkling on top)
- 1 box jumbo shells
Preheat your oven to 350. Cook the jumbo shells for about 7-8 minutes in salted boiling water. You want them barely undercooked because they'll keep cooking in the oven. This is very important. Drain the shells when they're done cooking, and place them back in the pot with cold water. Cook the sausage in a pan over medium heat. Add spinach and remove from heat. Stir until the spinach is wilted.
Grease a 9X13 baking dish. Spread 1/2 cup sauce on the bottom, evenly. In a large bowl, combine eggs, ricotta cheese, sausage/spinach mixture, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, basil, pepper/salt to taste, 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese, and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.
To stuff the shells, grab one shell gently. Take a heaping spoonful of the ricotta mixture, and place it into the middle of the shell. Make sure the sides of the shell go over the mixture – I do this by gently squeezing it together. Place each shell in the baking dish, once you stuff them. It will make roughly 16 shells.
Pour the remaining sauce over the pasta, making sure you really cover the sides of the shells on the edges of the pan. That will prevent them from getting hard in the oven. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese over the shells, and sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese (as much as you like!).
Cover, and bake in the oven for 25 minutes exactly, in the middle rack of the oven. Remove the aluminum foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly. Remove from the oven, and let it set for about 6 minutes. Then, enjoy!