Phew, quite a name! :)
DH loves stuffed shells but he has been deprived of them for almost a year now since I just haven't had time to fuss around making a decent vegetarian version. I tried it once a couple months ago after he commented on how much he missed them. I figured I could just leave out the sausage and they'd be OK. Wrong.. they were so blah. I may be English, but I do not do bland! ;) Anyway, now that I'm finished with my Masters and have a bit more time to play around in the kitchen, I came up with the following for dinner on Saturday. These are really tasty and have some great nutrition boosts thanks to the mushrooms and spinach.
Makes 4 large shells (I eat two with a big salad and save the remaining two for lunch the next day)
4 large pasta shells
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1/2 egg (you could either whisk the whole egg and then measure approx. half of that or separate the egg and use just the white or, if you're feeling indulgent, just the yolk ;)
3 oz. low-fat ricotta (or cottage cheese)
1/8 cup freshly-grated part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/8 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped spinach
1/8 cup chopped onion
3 or 4 mushrooms (button, cremini, baby portobellas), chopped
1 tbsp. fresh parsley (or 2 tsp. dried)
1/4 tsp. dried fennel, crushed
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp. dried oregano
2 tbsp. panko (or other dry breadcrumbs)
1/2-1 cup marinara sauce
A little extra freshly-grated Parm or mozzarella to sprinkle on top
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Cook the pasta shells according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
2. While the pasta cooks, sautee the mushrooms and onion in a little olive oil over medium heat. Remove from heat and scrape into a large bowl.
3. Add the ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan to the onion-mushroom mixture. Mix together. Add the egg, panko, and spinach and mix to combine. Stir in the fennel, garlic, parsley, oregano, and red pepper flakes.
4. Spread some marinara sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. Spoon filling into each of the shells and then place them in the marinara-covered dish. Top the shells with the remaining marinara sauce and cover the dish with foil.
5. Bake the shells for 15-20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle with additional mozzarella or Parmesan as desired during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
I started out with this recipe as the base and then added other items based on the manicotti recipe. The mushrooms and fennel were last-minute "ooh, I have mushrooms and fennel" additions. The idea to saute the mushrooms and onion also came to me as I was getting ingredients out.