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Playing Melissa d’Arabian’s Stuffed Shells


For the sauce
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 carrot, grated, about 1/2 cup
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup beef stock or vegetable stock (if making vegetarian)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 10 ounces jumbo pasta shells
For the Filling
  • 24 ounces Lactaid Low-fat Cottage Cheese (1 ½ containers)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
  • 3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • Salt and pepper
To finish
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil


Serves: 6


Make the sauce:  In a large saucepan, cook the onion and grated carrot in the olive oil over medium-low heat until vegetables are softened, about 7 minutes.  Do not let brown. Add the garlic and Italian herbs and cook until fragrant, another minute or two. Turn up the heat to high, and add the crushed tomatoes, and stir with a wooden spoon. Once the mixture starts to boil, add the tomato sauce and stock, and bring to a simmer again. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes while you make the rest of the recipe.

Make the shells, by boiling them in salted water according to package directions and removing them one minute before the time on the package. Rinse, and set aside, holding them in cold water (to prevent sticking).

Make the filling: Place the cottage cheese in a small food processor and pulse until the large curds are broken down into smaller ricotta-like curds, about five pulses. (Scrape the sides down with a rubber spatula between pulses.)  Scrape the cottage cheese into a medium bowl and add the remaining filling ingredients; mix until well-blended. Spoon the filling into a resealable plastic bag, and cut a 1-inch tip open in the corner. (Chill if there is any waiting time before stuffing shells.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 2 1/2-quart baking dish with nonstick spray. Spread 1/2 cup sauce on the bottom of the pan. Add 2 tablespoons of water if needed to spread sauce around.  Squeeze cheese filling into each shell and place the filled shells into the pan. Once all the shells are done, pour the remaining sauce on top of the shells, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover the shells, top with remaining parmesan cheese, if using, and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before topping with basil and serving.