We were feeling silly and ran to grab some chips and dip for Girl’s Movie Night. T.J. works swing shifts and we take full advantage our free reign over the remote! A box of jumbo shells caught Annabeth’s eye and I was buzzing from some cookies we shared earlier, so I bought them. I looked up a couple recipes on Pinterest but decided to create my own version loaded with the vegetables I had on hand.
Boil a box of jumbo shells to al dente or a couple minutes less than directed.
- 1 onion, diced
- Healthy drizzle of olive oil
Saute onion in oil over medium heat until translucent.
My new trick to keep mushrooms on hand for sneaking into nearly all dishes. I think at this point, I’m not really tricking anyone plus Annabeth loves mushrooms.
I mince bella mushrooms finely then smooth them in a gallon zip top bag and fold into quarters. I put the folded bag of mushrooms into the freezer. When I pull it out, I flatten the bag out so it breaks into 4 squares of mushroom.
- 1 1/2 c frozen spinach
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 c mushrooms, minced
Add spinach, garlic, bell pepper, and mushroom to the skillet. Stir well and cook until moisture is evaporated. Take off burner to cool.
- 16 oz ricotta
- 2 large eggs
- 2c mozzarella, shredded
- 1T parsley, minced
Mix ricotta, eggs, mozzarella, and parsley well.
Add spinach mixture to the bowl of ricotta and cheese. Stir well.
- 8oz can tomato sauce
Spread tomato sauce on bottom of 9″ x 13″ pan. I mixed in some garlic powder and Italian seasoning to the can of tomato sauce first. Drizzle with olive oil.
Preheat oven to 350°
Stuff each shell, then place in the prepared pan like you’re playing a game of Tetris trying to keep the opening facing up. Make sure not to over stuff them like I did. Otherwise, you have to go back and steal stuffing from the extra plump ones for the remaining empty ones.
- 24 oz marinara sauce
Pour marinara sauce over shells evenly. Bake for 30 minutes or until sauce bubbles.
Sprinkle with some fresh basil and grated Pecorino Romano.
You will notice that I do not add salt, except to the boiling water for the noodles. I find that there is enough salt in the ricotta and marinara. I figure that you can add salt to taste after you take your first bite. There is so much salt in foods already, it’s better to not make a habit of adding extra unless you know you truly need it. Sprinkle on some red pepper flakes or fresh ground black pepper instead.
Serve with some steamed broccoli or cauliflower and a nice salad. Annabeth made one for us all by herself! She has a special set of knives that are safe for kiddos. She cut up cucumber, red bell pepper, tomatoes, lettuce, and squeezed on some Ranch dressing. I forgot to take a picture of her creation though. Oops. Her salad was the perfect compliment to a heavier main dish. Never miss a chance to let your little ones help in the kitchen. They will surprise you!