Saturday, July 10, 2010

Veggie and Sausage Stuffed Shells

I love stuffed shells. They are a little bit labor intensive, but they are one of my favorite "American-Italian" meals. My problem is that my husband does not like traditional stuffed shells (although Mexican Stuffed Shells are among his favorite meals). He has found them too heavy and doesn't like the thick ricotta taste. While reading my "Cook Yourself Thin" cookbook, I saw a recipe for stuffed shells that bulked up the flavor by using zucchini. By the time I had decided to finally make stuffed shells with this technique, I had lost this cookbook, so I just decided to wing it by adding an appropriate amount of shredded zucchini and spinach to the usual ricotta mixture. I used about half of the normal ricotta with these adjustments, but I also added some crumbled cooked turkey sausage to the mix to add another boost of flavor. These were really good, and definitely kept that creamy taste and texture that I love, while remaining light and not as cheesy for my husband. I would probably even be okay with making them without the sausage for a vegetarian meal, but I'm not sure if my husband would agree. I'm planning on using zucchini a lot more this summer, since it is so good when it is in season, and it is easy to add to pastas for a little healthy vegetable kick! The funny thing is that when I finally found my cookbook, I had actually stuck to the recipe pretty closely, even though it had been months since I had looked at it. Good photographic recipe memory, I guess!

Stuffed Shells with Veggies and Sausage (inspired by Cook Yourself Thin)
1 box jumbo shells
1/2 lb turkey sausage, casings removed
1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 zucchini, shredded
1 bag baby spinach, roughly chopped
1 egg
1 cup skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 jar pasta sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese
Cook pasta to package directions, drain. Heat oil in large saute pan. Cook sausage & garlic over medium high until no longer pink. Remove to large bowl with slotted spoon to cool, leaving juices in pan. Add zucchini and spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Drain very well, pressing out as much water as possible. Add to sausage in bowl and let cool. Add ricotta, egg, parmesan and nutmeg and stir well to combine. Pour about 1/2 cup of sauce into 13" x 9" pan. Stuff cooked shells with 2 Tbs filling and place in pan. Top with remaining sauce. Cover and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil and top with mozzarella. Bake for 5 minutes more or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

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