Thursday, March 7, 2013

Broccoli & Cheese Stuffed Shells

So, as promised, I wanted to share a Lent friendly dinner this week!  I made this last week and it was pretty simple and it didn't need a ton of ingredients.  Fridays during Lent can be tricky and I've really been trying to make new meatless recipes rather than the old standbys.  This was just enough of a twist on an old favorite that I figured Chris and I would both like it.

Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Shells
(This makes about three servings, about 4 or 5 shells each)
- 14 jumbo pasta shells (I don't think mine are jumbo I think they are smaller than that hence my using so many)
- a little more than half a container (15 oz) of ricotta cheese (I reserved about 5 oz for another recipe I was making)
- 1/3 c. Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 c. Mozzarella cheese (divided in half)
- 1 crown of broccoli, cut into bite size pieces and steamed (you can use frozen and thaw it but I rather use fresh)
- 1/2 jar of marinara that you prefer
- salt and pepper to taste

- Preheat oven to 400F.
- In a large pot, boil water, add salt then add shells, cook until al dente.  Strain and rinse to cool.
- Steam broccoli, rinse in cold water to cool.
- In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta, Parmesan, 1/4 c. Mozzarella, broccoli and salt and pepper.

- Stuff each shell with about 2 tablespoons of cheese/broccoli mixture.

- Spread half the amount of marinara you have in the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish (I used a smaller one and the shells ended up a little squished).
- Lay stuffed shells seam side down in the sauce.
- Cover shells with remaining sauce and sprinkle remaining mozzarella on top.

- Bake in the oven for 20 − 25 minutes until bubbling and cheese is completely melted.

- Serve and enjoy!

These were pretty easy, just a little time consuming is all since it had to bake for at least 20 minutes.  But I took the time to get the messy dishes done so I had less work after dinner!  The broccoli helps make it a little more substantial than just cheese stuffed shells.  Chris gave it a make again but not all the time rating, he wasn't a big fan of the broccoli but thought it was still good.  You could easily make these ahead of time and have them stored in the refrigerator.  Or you could bake them up, let them cool and freeze them for an easy weeknight meal down the road, all you'd have to do is defrost them and microwave them till warmed through.

Up next I've got another meatless meal to share!  This weekend I'll be celebrating my birthday so I think I might take some time off for R&R and then get back with all of you next week!


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