Recipe: Light and Cheesy Stuffed Pasta Shells

by Caitlyn Stace

Stuffed ShellsAre cheese-stuffed pasta shells one of your guilty pleasures? Do you picture them swimming in a savory tomato paste, just waiting to treat your taste buds with a creamy burst of flavor?

While the temptation is strong, the dread that comes from stepping on the scale the next morning changes your mind.

What if you could have your stuffed shells and eat them too?

Our recipe enables you to have your cheesy stuffed pasta and keep on your eating plan!

We've added more rich-flavored vegetables and decreased the fat content without compromising the flavor. Let's get cooking!

Stuffed Pasta Shells

Prep time: 20 minutes | Total time: 1 hour | Yield: 6 to 8 servings


• 12-ounce box jumbo pasta shells
• 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 onion, diced small
• 10 ounces mushrooms, diced small
• 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 teaspoon oregano
• pinch nutmeg
• 10 ounces baby spinach
• 3/4 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
• salt and pepper to taste
• 2 1/2 to 3 cups diced tomatoes, crushed or one 28-ounce jar tomato sauce
• 1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 375 °.

Cook pasta until "al dente" according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and cook about five minutes. Add mushrooms and cook an additional five minutes. Stir in the garlic, spices and salt to taste. Cook another minute.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the spinach and cover with a lid. Cook two minutes, uncover and stir. Continue covering, steaming and stirring until the spinach wilts. Uncover the pan. Stir while allowing the liquid to evaporate. Remove the pan from the heat.

Combine the ricotta, cooked vegetables and mozzarella in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour half of the tomatoes into the bottom of a 9" by 13" baking dish. Spoon 2 heaping tablespoon of the filling into each jump shell and arrange in the baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the top.

Bake, covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving. Romaine salad and garlic bread make perfect companions.

Cook's Note

Cottage cheese's rich flavor and creamy texture make it a good stand-in for ricotta. Just drain the extra liquid for a more compact filling. Set a strainer over a bowl. Pour the cottage cheese into the strainer and allow it to drain for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

How will you stuff yours?