On weeknights I struggle to find easy and healthy meals for our family. There is such a small window of time between the end of the work day and the kids bed time and I don’t like spending that entire time in the kitchen. These cheese stuffed shells are perfect because I can get them ready the night before, or even earlier in the day, and then throw them in the oven to have dinner ready in about 30 minutes.
The filling is very simple – four different types of cheeses and herbs and spices. I always recommend shredding your own cheese; pre-shredded cheeses contain bulking agents and chemicals to keep the pieces separated. Using cheese you have shredded yourself melts so much better and you are not putting harmful chemicals into your body. After adding spices and herbs I mix everything in together. With picky kids I don’t add too much to the filling. You can absolutely add other proteins and vegetables (these are delicious with spinach and chicken).
After boiling the shells until they are just tender I rinse them and let them cook for at least 15 minutes before handling them. Water can become trapped inside the warm shells and can burn your hands if you handle these too soon after draining. Before filling the shells I put my pasta sauce in the bottom of my skillet. I use a roasted tomato and sweet basil pasta sauce. I’ve never tried it with Alfredo, but it is also delicious with vodka sauce. Use whatever your family loves. You can put this together ahead of time and out in the fridge until ready to bake. Otherwise, put your dinner in the oven and bake for about a half hour. The cheese will start to bubble out of the shells and the sauce should be boiling around the shells. Allow to cool for five to ten minutes before serving.
- 1 1/2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
- 15 ounces low-fat ricotta cheese
- 1 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 cloves grated garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- Salt & Pepper
- 12 ounces of jumbo pasta shells
- 1 quart of your favorite pasta sauce
- Boil pasta until al dente.
- Strain and rinse pasta and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Mix together cottage cheese, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, garlic, parsley and salt and pepper.
- Evenly spread pasta sauce in the bottom of a 12 inch cast iron skillet (or 9 x 13 baking pan).
- Fill pasta shells with about a 1/4 cup of cheese filling and gently place in skillet spacing evenly.
- Bake shells for about 30 minutes or until the cheese starts to bubble out.
- Allow to cool for five to ten minutes before serving.