• Brianna Rhodes, RD, CD

Spinach Stuffed Shells

These Spinach Stuffed Shells are easy, cheesy and delicious! This will be another win with your family. Give it a try tonight!

This dish is in the Italian Pasta comfort food category. But it’s actually pretty healthy too. I made this with cottage cheese instead of ricotta cheese—that means it’s significantly less expensive, and the kids loved the more mild flavor. Also, it is packed with spinach and no meat, which makes it a bit lighter.

I mean it when I say this is easy. I think it took 20 minutes to get oven ready. And this makes a great freezer meal too. I split the recipe in half and saved a pan for later. It cooked up great out of the freezer.

This is a very kid-friendly meal. The shells are a fun pasta shape, and the kids will enjoy helping you stuff them. It will likely take longer than 20 minutes if you get the kids involved, but hey! Who doesn’t want help in the kitchen? Kids need to get their hands dirty every now and then. Plus it’s a good chance to chat about the day.

The meal ended up being light enough that I made bread sticks from scratch to go along with it. These are very simple baking powder bread sticks, so no rising needed. Just make and bake.

Good things usually come in threes, so the third part of this meal is a big leafy green salad. Throw whatever you like on it. This one includes asparagus, carrots, spinach and romaine lettuce.

The Meal:

  • 4 Spinach Stuffed Shells

  • 1 ½ cups Romaine and baby spinach

  • Carrots, asparagus

  • 1 Tbsp Italian Dressing

  • 1 Parmesan Bread stick

Recipes Used in this meal:

Spinach Stuffed Shells

Serving Size: 4 Shells

10 servings

Ingredients:

  • 40 jumbo pasta shells, cooked according to directions listed on package

  • 15 oz. frozen chopped spinach (thawed)

  • 24 oz. Cottage cheese

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning

  • 1 tsp thyme

  • 1 tsp garlic, finely minced

  • 3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided

  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese (shredded or grated)

  • 2 1/2 cups marinara sauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  2. In a mixing bowl, using a fork, blend together cottage cheese and egg. Stir in Italian Seasoning, thyme and garlic. Add 2 cups mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and toss mixture to combine.

  3. Squeeze all the liquid out of the thawed spinach and dry with paper towels. Mix prepared spinach into cheese mixture.

  4. Spread 1/3 cup pasta sauce into an even layer along bottom of a 13 by 9-inch baking dish.

  5. Divide cheese mixture among cooked pasta shells, stuffing each shell full with about 2 Tbsp cheese mixture. Align shells in baking dish side by side, with the opening of shells facing upright.

  6. Cover shells evenly with remaining marinara sauce then sprinkle tops evenly with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese.

  7. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven 30 minutes. Serve warm.

For freezer meals: Do not bake. Cover with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil. Freeze up to 3 months. Thaw in fridge the night before baking. Remove plastic wrap, and then cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350° for 35-45 minutes covered.

Parmesan Bread Sticks

Serving size: 1 bread stick

12 Servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour

  • 2 tsp sugar

  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder

  • ½ tsp salt

  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil

  • 2/3 cup milk

Topping:

  • ¼ cup butter

  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese

  • ½ tsp garlic powder

  • ½ tsp dried parsley

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°

  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine.

  3. Add olive oil and milk. Stir/mix until well blended. Knead by hand as needed to form dough into a ball.

  4. Roll dough out in a rectangle on a cutting board to ¼ inch thickness. Use a pizza cutter to slice into 12 strips.

  5. Twist strips and place on baking sheet.

  6. In a small bowl, melt butter. Mix in parmesan, garlic and parsley. Spoon evenly over the tops of the breadsticks.

  7. Bake at 400° for 10-15 minutes.

Nutrition Facts Label for Entire Meal:

Nutrition Facts Label for Spinach Stuffed Shells:

Nutrition Facts Label for Parmesan Bread Sticks:

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RD and Me

Brianna Rhodes, RD, CD

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