This one was made from start to finish with my 5 year old and the hubby! I provided the ingredients and watched over their shoulders to make suggestions on amounts to add – but they did all of the legwork! I would have normally made my own tomato sauce – but they kind of sprung it on me that they wanted to make this – so went with a jar – that works just fine too! You’ll see too in the ingredients photo that I use a lot of low fat or fat free products – I think paired with some “fatty” ingredients, they work great together! I will never use fat free or reduced fat shredded cheese for melting – it just doesn’t work!
The two of them had a lot of fun and it was a joy for me to watch them at work! We paired it with a green salad and enjoyed a delicious dinner together!
This can certainly be prepared the night before to save time when everyone’s hungry and ready for dinner. Go ahead and bake it the night before, cover and store in the refrigerator. To reheat, put the cold dish in the cold oven while the oven heats – it should take 30 – 45 minutes or so to reheat once the oven reaches 350.
Ingredients (salt/pepper and parsley not pictured):
Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Jumbo Shells
14-16 jumbo pasta shells
1 1/2 – 2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 -2 cups spinach, washed and chopped (should be about a cup after chopping, if you like spinach, go with the 2 cups!)
8 oz cottage cheese
15 oz ricotta cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated
1-2 cups pasta sauce
1-2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Piping bag to get cheese mixture into shells
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook pasta shells according to package directions, typically 12 minutes or so.
In a large bowl (this is especially helpful if the kids are helping to keep everything IN the bowl) combine the spinach, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, garlic, Italian seasoning, 1/4 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese and salt/pepper to taste.
Add the cheese mixture to a piping bag (no tip needed, just cut the tip of the piping bag big enough for the cheese to fit through).
Once the pasta is done, drain.
Add about 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce to cover the bottom of an 11 x 7 inch baking dish (or something similar in size). Start piping the cheese mixture into the pasta shells. Place, cheese side up, in the dish – repeat until complete. Squeezing the cheese mixture into the shells was especially fun for the 5 year old!
Shells in pan:
Cover the shells with the remaining pasta sauce (more if needed – just make sure each shell has some sauce on it) with the shredded Mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan or Romano cheese. Bake, uncovered, for about 35 minutes, or until the mixture starts to bubble. Garnish with chopped parsley.
Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. It will be very hot still coming out of the pan, if serving to kids, let it sit on their plate for a few minutes before they come to the table!