Stuffed shells is one of those dishes I rarely make, especially since I started Weight Watchers at the end of December. It’s just too cheesy and good, and way high in points. But then I found this recipe I had pulled from the October 2009 Food Network magazine and had to give it a try. Loaded with veggies, stuffed with tofu and cottage cheese, it was right up my alley!
The stuffing was a little bit bland, but I take full responsibility for that. The recipe calls for kosher salt, and I just used a dash or two of regular salt, thinking that the parmesan would make it salty enough. Nope, not the case. So next time I’ll definitely season the filling more. Also, I cooked the shells for the whole amount of time the box said to but the recipe says to only boil them for 8 minutes. Oops. I was left with soggy noodles, and a wet sauce since the noodles weren’t able to soak up the excess water. Lesson learned.
Regardless of my mistakes, this was a great recipe and I’d definitely make it again. I felt good watching my son eat it, knowing he was eating such healthful things like tofu, veggies, and very little fat. He picked out all the spinach and set it aside on his plate, but I’ll pick my battles. He ate the rest of it, even piling it on a piece of toast to eat it like a spread.
You’ll notice in the recipe that it’s a little time-consuming, what with making your own sauce, and the baking time. Seeing as I don’t get home until 6:00 most nights, I planned ahead and made the sauce and filling the night before. That way, all I had to do that night was boil the shells, assemble, and bake.
For the Sauce:
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated carrot
- 1/2 cup grated zucchini
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- Freshly ground pepper
For the Shells:
- 1 12-ounce box jumbo pasta shells
- 8 ounces silken tofu, mashed
- 1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrot, zucchini, onion and celery and saute until soft but not brown, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the basil, oregano, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, prepare the shells: Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 8 minutes; drain. Mix the tofu, spinach, cottage cheese, parmesan, 1/2 cup mozzarella, the egg and garlic in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Mist a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread about 1 cup of the sauce in the dish. Stuff the cheese mixture into the shells and place in the baking dish, open-side up. Pour the remaining sauce over the shells. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella and bake for 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.
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