Who doesn’t love pasta?! Stuffed and baked?! Even better! This is a recipe I used to make before kids for my husband and it became my go-to when I first became a mother. I shared it in my Instagram stories the other day, and well...here we are after many requests!
My first born had a textural issue. He didn’t like veggies or any kind of protein unless it was hidden. But pasta and cheese? He LOVED! He used to love anything Italian and I remember one day he requested my moms lasagna but I didn't have any on hand. I opted for the jumbo shells in the pantry and thought I'd give it a try. Trick him into thinking it's lasagna but individually stuffed?! He hadn't been eating well and I decided to add some extra ingredients like spinach, and eggs for protein and guess what?! He ate it, all of it...that entire week!
Since then it’s been a repeat in our home and I love how freezer friendly it is. One of my favorite things to do is batch cook and freeze half for another day. With the boys getting older and their growing appetites, it’s become such a lifesaver on days we are busy.
So here’s a favorite in our home that I hope you enjoy!
12oz box jumbo shells (boiled & drained)
1/4 lb spinach (chopped)
2 garlic cloves (mashed)
1 bunch green onions (chopped)
1 tbsp oil
15 oz ricotta cheese
2 c. shredded mozzarella
Salt/Pepper (to taste)
1/2 tsp red chili flakes (or more to taste)
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 jar pasta sauce of choice
1 cup cooked ground beef (optional)
Sauté spinach garlic and green onions in oil until it wilts and liquid evaporates.
Let it cool while you mix the cheeses, spices and eggs together.
Now add the sautéed veggie mixture to the cheese and pour into a piping bag.
Pipe the filling into the boiled jumbo shells.
Pour some pasta sauce in two 8x8 pans and line the stuffed shells.
Sprinkle top with ground beef, more sauce, more shredded cheese and crushed flakes if desired.
Bake at 350’F covered for 15 mins then remove foil and bake uncovered for another 5 mins.
Makes two 8x8 pans.
Once assembled, freeze one pan to pull out for another day. Just wrap tightly in Saran Wrap them aluminum foil. No need to defrost! Bake directly in oven adding 10 extra minutes.
Stuff zucchini with filling for a gluten free alternative.
If you have an egg allergy you may just omit the egg, it just helps with binding and reducing the liquid that comes from the ricotta cheese, but it tastes just fine without!
My Keema Samosa filling turns out wonderful in this recipe, if you choose to add ground beef.
If you don't have a pastry bag, you may use a ziplock bag, cutting one corner for the tip or a spoon.
Be sure to also checkout my Roasted Veggie Gratin for a pasta free alternative!