The Lean Green Bean

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stuffed Shells

I was in class all day today, but really all I was thinking about was dinner...I was super tired, but I knew that cooking would make me feel better! I had stuffed shells on the menu. Usually when I make stuffed shells, I use ground turkey and spinach, but I didn't have any turkey out so I decided to use the rest of my butternut squash instead.

Here's how it went down:

I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to test out my sodium free tomato sauce. So, as soon as I got home, I opened up a can and dumped it into a small pot.

It was much thicker than I expected (that's a good wasn't a watery mess!) and looked pretty much like any other tomato sauce. I then apparently set the burner a little too high because after a quick trip outside, I came back in and sauce bubbles were exploding all over the stove!!

The reason I had to run outside was because my in-laws were dropping off some garlic from Costco...and when I say some, I mean a pound and a half of peeled garlic cloves- SCORE!!! Three pounds for $5.

So after I rectified the exploding sauce situation, I chopped up 4-5 cloves of said garlic and added it to the sauce along with some basil. Then I added some more basil, and some more, and a little parsley...and then I finally left it alone (ON LOW) to simmer while I made the rest of dinner.

I also turned on the oven right when I got home, so by this time it was just about ready and I put my leftover squash on a pan and stuck it in the oven to roast at 400 degrees.

Next, I started on the  pumpkin knots because I knew the dough needed to rise. You can find the complete pumpkin knot story in the next post!

Once the dough was rising, it was time to get back to the filling for my shells. I usually use frozen spinach in pasta dishes, but as I mentioned last night, I have A TON of fresh spinach, so I decided to use that instead. I washed it, put it in a pyrex dish, loosely covered it and microwaved it for 4 minutes. Once it cooled a bit, I plopped it on a towel and squeezed out some of the water.

When the squash finished roasting, I put it in the food processor with the spinach (which I roughly chopped) and a clove of garlic.

I added a container of low-fat ricotta cheese, some basil and black pepper, and about 1/4 cup of warm water.

Then I blended it all together. I obviously didn't think this through quite well enough because now, instead of the green speckled white mixture that I normally have, I had this:

A lovely sea-green wouldn't you say? I had a momentary panic but then I tasted it and it tasted fine (see the little finger print?!), so I continued on my merry way. I scooped the mixture into a ziploc bag and set it aside.

I cooked the pasta shells, about 15 or so, and then decided that I needed a little something else to complete the dish. I found two spicy italian sausages in the freezer and cooked and sliced those.

Assembly time:

I knew a 9x13 pan would be too big, so I found a smaller one. It fit two rows of 7 shells. I put a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan and topped it with a layer of sausage slices.

Then I cut the corner off the ziploc bag and piped the cheese mixture into the shells:


I topped the shells with another  layer of sauce:

And then added some mozzerella cheese.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve warm.

The verdict? Pretty good! You can't really taste the squash at all...a good way to sneak in extra vegetables! The hubby liked them as well. The sauce was good too....I'll definitely be making it again!



Anonymous Carol said...

Looks delicious!!!! And I love the pic of the garlic:) Now I need recipes for garlic dishes! I've been looking @ the 40 cloves of garlic chicken recipes...what do you think?

October 14, 2010 at 8:58 PM  
Anonymous Lindsay said...

I've seen several different ones, but I've just never had 40 cloves of garlic on hand...seems a little excessive....oh wait, I do now!

October 14, 2010 at 9:29 PM  

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