For the sauce:
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 carrot, grated (about ½ cup)
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • ½ teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
  • One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • One 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • ½ cup beef stock (or vegetable stock, if making vegetarian)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 10 ounces jumbo pasta shells
For the filling:
  • 24 ounces low-fat cottage cheese (1 ½ containers)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, optional
  • One 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • ½ teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
  • ¾ teaspoon granulated garlic
  • Salt and pepper
To finish:
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, optional
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil


Serves: 6


For 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, 1 to 2 minutes more. Turn up the heat to high, add the crushed tomatoes, and stir with a wooden spoon. Once the mixture starts to boil, add the tomato sauce and stock, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer again. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the shells according to package directions and remove 1 minute before the suggested cooking time. Rinse, then place in cold water to prevent sticking.

For the filling, pulse the cottage cheese in a food processor until the large curds are broken down into smaller ricotta-like curds, about 5 pulses. (Scrape the sides down with a rubber spatula between pulses.) Scrape the cottage cheese into a medium bowl and stir in the remaining filling ingredients. Spoon the filling into a resealable plastic bag, and cut a 1-inch tip open in the corner. (Refrigerate if waiting before stuffing shells.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 2½-quart baking dish with nonstick spray. Spread ½ cup sauce on the bottom of the pan; add 2 tablespoons water if needed to spread the sauce. Pipe filling into each shell and arrange the filled shells in the pan. Once shells are filled, pour the remaining sauce on top of the shells, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the pan, top with parmesan cheese, if using, and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before topping with basil and serving.