Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Getting It Together & Spinach Stuffed Shells

About a year ago I got it together.  Instead of frantically trying to put something together for lunch while everyone was starving right after church (Why do we seem hungrier than normal at lunchtime on a Sunday?), I decided to make a point to have something ready ahead of time.  Either leftovers that could be heated up quickly or a dish that was ready to pop into the oven while we changed clothes and set the table.

The difference?  Incredible.  I don't know that anyone else in the house noticed that I stopped making food on Sundays, but I sure did.  Not only did things feel a lot less hectic and lunch was served earlier, but it felt like the right thing to do considering Sundays are our Sabbath.

It goes like this.  Friday night is pizza night- one for the kids and one for us.  The kids get plain cheese and we get pesto, tomato (roasted or fresh) and mozzarella or Malaysian Chicken or Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Caramelized Onion and Feta.  Saturday is usually a busy day of outdoor projects, errands, etc, so it lends itself well to leftover pizza for dinner.  Also on my agenda for Saturday is to prepare Sunday noon's meal.

This past Saturday found me putting together Spinach Stuffed Shells and it occurred to me that I haven't shared this recipe here yet.  The recipe was inspired by a college friend, Jessica, who used cottage cheese instead of ricotta in her stuffed shells.  I'm pretty sure she was using cottage cheese to cut down on fat, but I have found that the lighter version is much easier on my stomach.  Remember this car trip?  That was after eating stuffed shells with ricotta.  Enough said.

Spinach Stuffed Shells
I often make two 8 x 8 pans of these shells instead of one 9 x 13.  One pan we eat right away and the other I freeze (unbaked) for another Sunday.  

1 large box (12 or 16 ounce) jumbo shells
2 tbsp. olive oil
6 cups packed spinach, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
24 ounces cottage cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 quart (32 ounces) tomato sauce

Cook shells according to directions and drain.  While shells are cooking, place olive oil and spinach in a skillet.  Toss and cook spinach over medium high heat until wilted, but still bright green.  Transfer the spinach to a large bowl and add remaining ingredients except tomato sauce.  Combine filling ingredients well.  Once shells are cooked, drained and cooled a bit, spoon a heaping tablespoon of cheese and spinach filling into each shell and lay them seam side down in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray, forming a second layer if needed.  Spoon tomato sauce over and around each shell, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Pin It


  1. I love stuffed shells. I'm anxious to try this version. And, I think your idea of prepping your Sunday lunch ahead of time is great. Somehow Sundays always feel hectic to me. Getting 4 boys out the door for church is a challenge in itself. But, then, bringing sleepy children home from church & trying to prepare a meal yet makes ME ready for a nap. So, I think your idea is so simple yet so ingenious. Perhaps I'll adopt it as well.

  2. Those look good!

    Sunday noon, for us, is usually leftovers (the kids aren't that hungry because they've had snacks in Sunday school) and supper is popcorn or other snacky things. However, planning ahead, even if only for leftovers, is an excellent idea.

    Have you seen Margo's posts (http://bit.ly/bJ5KmI)on the topic? Lately she's been detailing how she goes about doing Sunday lunch. It's inspiring.

  3. We make this meal all the time! It is SO yummy! And I totally agree that the cottage cheese is creamier and tasty!

  4. Y.U.M. Years ago when I worked in the group home my co-worker would make these. I forgot how much I loved them until I saw this! My mom has used cottage cheese in her lasagne for years and years...so, I do, too! Thank you for sharing this recipe...and the fact that it can be prepared ahead and frozen. I am always looking for recipes that I can freeze...even though I never actually DO IT. >:/

  5. That looks like some seriously good food! Your weekends sound just like mine! By the time we say good bye to the last person at church and drive home (20+ min.), it is usually 1:30 when we walk in the door. Everyone is famished! So I definitely appreciate a "make ahead" dish!

  6. you're killin me with all these wonderful recipes! now I have a backlog of things to make and I'm even more behind in trying them out than I am in making my egg beads. my mouth is watering right now. I want to bite into one of those ginormous shells!

  7. Looks so good! I was going to tell you what I've been doing on my blog about Sunday dinner, but Jennifer Jo beat me to it (thanks!).

    I will be happy to add this recipe to my arsenal for Sundays. It seems like a complete meal - do you serve it with something else?

    I never thought much about the difference between ricotta and cottage cheese; I can often get dirt-cheap ricotta at my discount grocer, so that's usually what I use. I've even subbed it for cottage cheese in some More with Less recipes!

  8. Margo, I look forward to checking out what you're doing about Sunday meals. We eat these stuffed shells with salad (spring and fall) or good old applesauce. The kids love it:-).

  9. Lovely, lovely, lovely!! I'm making these for dinner tonight with my fresh baby spinach from my garden... mmm! thanks!

  10. oooh definately going to try this thank you!


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