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It’s just the two of us, so I never have to cook for a crowd, but I am a big fan of leftovers or make ahead meals. That way, I have food ready when I get home after a long day, as does my husband, or I have leftovers for lunches at work. Gotta love simplicity during the work week, even if it means a little extra work on the weekend!

This meal makes enough to serve a big crowd, or freeze half of it for a later time. I use Newman’s Own Fire Roasted Tomato Sauce for a smoky flavor, but if you prefer, you can use any marinara sauce of your choice. And it’s cheesy pasta… the best kind of pasta there is!

Four-Cheese Stuffed Shells with Smoky Marinara

1 pound jumbo shell pasta (40 shells)
Cooking spray
1 (16-ounce) carton 1% low-fat cottage cheese
1 (15-ounce) carton ricotta cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of nutmeg
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
6 cups (or 2 jars) fire-roasted or smoky marinara
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat 2 (13 x 9-inch) baking dishes with cooking spray; set aside.

Place cottage cheese and ricotta cheese in a food processor; process until smooth. Combine cottage cheese mixture, Asiago, Parmesan, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and spinach.

Spoon or pipe about 1 to 1½ tablespoons cheese mixture into each shell. Arrange half of stuffed shells, seam sides up, in one prepared dish. Pour 3 cups, or one jar, marinara over stuffed shells. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella. Repeat procedure with remaining stuffed shells, marinara, and mozzarella in remaining prepared dish.

Cover with foil. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese is melted.

To freeze unbaked casserole: Prepare the shells in the pans, then cover with plastic wrap, pressing to remove as much air as possible. Wrap with heavy-duty foil. Store in freezer for up to 2 months.

To prepare frozen unbaked casserole: Preheat oven to 375º. Remove foil; reserve foil. Remove plastic wrap; discard wrap. Cover frozen casserole with reserved foil; bake at 375º for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the shells are thoroughly heated.

Source: Adapted from Cooking Light

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