Stuffed Pasta Shells

I know I know – I’m supposed to be on a hiatus. But I got into a crazy cooking frenzy on Sunday and cooked meals for a week! I tried a new dish for me (got the idea from my friend and neighbour Zannat) called stuffed pasta shells. Very simple dish and total comfort food.

pasta shells

Ingredients

1 lb Ground turkey (can use beef or chicken or tofu)

1 can lentils (because I always add lentils to any ground meat I make)

1 onion chopped

3 cloves of garlic chopped

8-10 mushrooms sliced or chopped

1 cup of Ricotta cheese

1 tbsp dried oregano

2 cups of tomato sauce (I used a marinara)

Grated parmesan cheese to top with

Directions

Sauté onion, mushrooms and garlic first. Then add ground meat and cook till browned. Add in oregano and ½ cup of tomato sauce and the can of lentils.  Sauté all until cooked and then add the ricotta cheese and mix thoroughly.

In a large pot, boil the water for the shells and drop in pasta. Stir occasionally until el dente. Drain pasta when ready.

Using your hands and a fork (I found this the easiest way), stuff each pasta shell with the meat mixture and put in a baking dish. Cover with remaining tomato sauce and sprinkle parmesan cheese over top and bake at 350 degrees F for ½ hour (check to be sure it doesn’t burn – or if it needs more time leave it in for a bit longer – technically everything is already cooked so it is just to crispen the edges of the pasta and heat everything through).

Thats it! pretty simple.  I tend to double the meat portion of the recipe and keep it aside before putting the ricotta in. It is perfect for stuffed squash and or several other dishes or just eating as is with a nice salad.

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Healthy Baked Meatballs

These are a great go to meal if you don’t feel like cooking. I make a bunch and freeze them for those days. The pics above are made with ground chicken.

1 lb lean ground beef, turkey or chicken
4-6 egg whites (start with 4 and add if you need to for moisture)
1/2 cup parmesan
1/2 cup panko crumbs
1/8 cup ketchup
1/8 cup chilli sauce with garlic or sweet chili sauce
1/8 cup dijon mustard
Pepper plus a hint of salt
You can either add italian spices or go a more exotic route and use several pinches of cumin, cardomon, dry mustard, sea salt and paprika.
Mix well but don’t over mix
Saute a large onion till browned and let cool. Add to meat mixture

Form meatballs and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes and then flip meatballs and bake another 15-20 minutes. Let cool and serve however you like to eat meatballs.

I make a tomato sauce with sauted onion and garlic and a can of diced tomatoes. Let cook till thick. You can add a can or bottle of ready made sauce at this point too if you want. Add a touch of either sugar, agave or sweetner to take the acidic edge off the sauce. When meatballs are cooked, add to sauce and simmer till ready to serve. Serve alone or over pasta. To cut down on carbs I throw in a can of white kidney beans and serve without the pasta.
Can be frozen or refridgerated.