Over A Cup: ‘Vegetable Stuffed Shells’ a great way to get kids to eat veggies

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Diane Prather

'Vegetable Stuffed Shells'

To make “Vegetable Stuffed Shells,” you’ll need:

• 1 (12-ounce ) box jumbo pasta shells

• 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

• ½ bunch of broccoli, chopped into small pieces (steam the other half for another veggie or add to a salad)

• 1 cup shredded carrots (buy these already shredded or make your own)

• 1 small onion

• 1 clove garlic, minced into tiny pieces

• 1 box or sack (10 ounces) spinach, thawed and coarsely cut (or maybe use fresh)

• ¼ cup fresh basil or sprinkle in some dried basil

• 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese or 1 cup ricotta cheese

• 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

• ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper

• 1 ½ cups marinara or spaghetti sauce

• ½ cup shredded Mozzarella (or more if you really like cheese)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Heat the oil in a large skillet and add chopped broccoli, carrots, onions, and garlic. Cook a few minutes until tender; then add spinach and ½ cup water. Cover and cook about 2-3 minutes until vegetables are all tender. Remove the lid; cook until the liquid is mostly evaporated; remove from heat and add basil, ricotta or cottage cheese, Parmesan, and salt and pepper. Spread marinara sauce in the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Spoon about a tablespoon of the cheese/vegetable mixture into each pasta shell and place on top of the marinara sauce; sprinkle with Mozzarella; cover with foil and bake 35 minutes or until it starts to bubble.

— Recipe contributed by Darlene Blackford of Rocky Ford

Sometimes I buy a box of large pasta shells and follow the directions on the pasta box to make stuffed shells.

The resulting dish is pasta shells filled with a meat/cheese mixture that was baked in a casserole with a spaghetti sauce in the bottom (and perhaps spooned over the shells).

Anyway, this week’s recipe is similar, except that the pasta shell filling is filled with vegetables.

My sister, Darlene Blackford, from Rocky Ford, sent the recipe to me. She wrote, “We liked this, and the veggies are a nice addition.”

I haven’t taken time to try the recipe yet, but I’m sure it’s delicious.

To make “Vegetable Stuffed Shells,” you will need the following ingredients: 1 (12-ounce box) jumbo pasta shells; 2 teaspoons vegetable oil; 1/2 bunch of broccoli, chopped into small pieces (steam the other half for another veggie or add to a salad); 1 cup shredded carrots (you can buy these already shredded or do your own); 1 small onion; 1 clove garlic, minced into tiny pieces; 1 box or sack (10 ounces) frozen spinach thawed and coarsely cut; 1/4 cup fresh basil or sprinkle in some dried basil; 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese or 1 cup ricotta cheese; 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese; 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper; 1 1/2 cups marinara or spaghetti sauce; and 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella (or more if you really like cheese).

Darlene added some notes about the ingredients. She thinks you could use 1 to 2 cups fresh spinach, cut up. She didn’t use the fresh basil. She used ricotta cheese and said she didn’t think you’d have to use low-fat cottage cheese, either.

As for the marinara or spaghetti sauce, Darlene used the prepared kind in a jar.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta according to the directions on the package.

Heat oil in a large skillet and add chopped broccoli, carrots, onion and garlic. Cook a few minutes until tender; then add spinach and 1/2 cup water.

Cover and cook about 2-3 minutes until vegetables are all tender.

Remove lid; cook until liquid is mostly evaporated; remove from heat and add basil, ricotta or cottage cheese, Parmesan, salt and pepper.

Spread marinara sauce in the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. (You can use smaller dishes and do two.)

Spoon about a tablespoon of the cheese/vegetable mixture in each pasta shell and place on top of the marinara sauce; sprinkle with Mozzarella; cover with foil and bake 35 minutes or until it starts to bubble.

This might be a great way to get kids to eat veggies.

Thanks, Darlene.

If you have a recipe you’d like to share, call me at 824-8809 or write to me at P.O. Box 415, Craig, CO 81626.

I have some more great recipes, sent in by readers recently, that I’ll share soon.

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