This dish goes straight from the freezer to oven - no thawing required. The fire-roasted tomatoes in the marinara sauce give the dish a subtle smoky flavor. You can also easily vary the filling by adding basil or oregano and a different cheese. (We tried fontina instead of mozzarella and threw in some arugula for a peppery bite.) Make some garlic bread and a green salad and dinner's on.
1 pound jumbo shell pasta (40 shells)
1 (12-ounce) carton 1% low-fat cottage cheese
1 (15-ounce) carton ricotta cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
How to Make It
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375°.
Coat 2 (13 x 9-inch) baking dishes with cooking spray; set aside.
Place cottage cheese and ricotta cheese in a food processor; process until smooth. Combine cottage cheese mixture, Asiago, and next 6 ingredients (Asiago through spinach).
Spoon or pipe 1 tablespoon cheese mixture into each shell. Arrange half of stuffed shells, seam sides up, in one prepared dish. Pour 3 cups Smoky Marinara over stuffed shells. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella. Repeat procedure with remaining stuffed shells, Smoky Marinara, and mozzarella in remaining prepared dish.
Cover with foil. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
To freeze unbaked casserole: Prepare through Step Cover with plastic wrap, pressing to remove as much air as possible. Wrap with heavy-duty foil. Store in freezer for up to 2 months.
To prepare frozen unbaked casserole: Preheat oven to 375º. Remove foil; reserve foil. Remove plastic wrap; discard wrap. Cover frozen casserole with reserved foil; bake at 375º for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the shells are thoroughly heated.
Smoky Marinara: I used 2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes instead of 1 fire roasted and 1 regular. Added a leftover chopped shallot to the garlic sauté as well and some crushed red chili flakes after the tomatoes were thrown in. Also made sure to cook it down a bit to concentrate flavor and make sure it wasn't too "watery" as some reviewers before me have said. Filling: I added a couple of garlic gloves to the food processor since we love garlic in our house. It turned out really well, and the smoky/spicy marinara went really well with the creamy filling. It will definitely yield 40 shells so cut in half if you don't want to freeze, I am already looking forward to the night when I don't have to cook and I can just pop these in the oven straight from the freezer. Paired with a simple green salad and had a lovely meal.
My grocery store did not have shells, so i decided to go with whole wheat lasagna (Hodgkin's Mill) in lieu of the shells. It was SOOOO much easier to do, and it made more individual pieces than the shells (48 total if you use half a sheet of lasagna per shell). I rolled each piece and otherwise followed directions- turned out awesome! 9 WW points plus, if you're counting, but that is for 4 shells, and 3 is probably enough if you have a big salad!
I enjoyed the meal - the flavors were spot on in my opinion. However, I give the recipe a 3 stars because I found it far too watery for my tastes. I think next time I will use either a jarred sauce or drain the canned tomatoes prior to making the recipes sauce.
This recipe was really good, but not outstanding. I added a little garlic powder and Italian seasoning to the cheese mix and used mostly jarred sauce. I also used dried parsley instead of fresh. Finally, I used manicotti pasta instead of shells. Overall my husband and I enjoyed the fresh pan of pasta, but haven't tried the frozen pan yet. I might try this one again with the smoky marinara sauce!
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