Birthday Stuffed Shells

Today is my oldest sons 20th Birthday!
Happy Birthday Jimmy!!
Luckily we got the chance to fly out this last weekend to see him.
Knowing we would be visiting I made one of his favorite dinners, froze it and brought it with me.
Because he is a collegiate rower and its rowing season his coach has him on a pretty tight diet to keep the guys lean and strong.
This recipe has it all, a little pasta for the energy, beef for the protein, onion and garlic for the anti-inflammation and spinach for the iron.  I used Part skim and lean beef to keep the calorie count down.
Bonus: I broke this out into individual sizes before I froze it, that way he can pull out of his freezer and reheat when needed.
  • 1 package of Jumbo shells
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 pound ground beef (8% fat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Oregano
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (depending on how hot you like)
  • 1 medium sweet Yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, roasted and mashed
  • 1 generous cup of chopped spinach
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 16 ounce Part Skim Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup of Italian Blend Shredded cheese (Mozzarella, Provolone, Asiago, Parmesan and Romano)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 jar of San Marzano Creamy Vodka Sauce
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan Cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 13×9 baking dish.

Cook Pasta in pot of boiling water and salt for 12-15 minutes.  Remove shells from water and drain on cookie sheet lined with paper towels.

Meanwhile brown beef in a tablespoon of oil over medium heat, breaking up into small pieces.  When browned add Oregano and Pepper Flakes, stir to combine.

Use a spoon to transfer beef to bowl.  Trying to leave juice in pan.  Drain beef again to get as dry as possible.

Add onion to pan and brown.  Add mashed garlic (if you do not have roasted garlic on hand add one garlic clove minced).  Cook around 5-7 minutes until onion softens and absorbs juice.  Add Spinach and stir.  If dry add a spoonful of pasta water.

Add onion and spinach mixture to beef and stir.  Allow to cool.

In another bowl mix Ricotta, egg, 1 cup of shredded cheese and parsley.

Add to beef mixture and stir.

Add half of vodka sauce to bottom of baking dish.

Use a spoon to scoop beef and cheese mixture into each individual shell and place in baking dish.  Continue until you run out of mix.

I always have extra shells left over (great to feed to the chickens)

Top shells with remaining vodka sauce and shredded cheese and Parmesan

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes on middle rack.  Remove foil and place on top rack for 5 minutes to brown cheese.

If you plan on freezing, let cool first then cover with foil and freeze.

For individual sizes, place on sturdy paper plate slide into a Ziploc freezer bag and freeze.

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Categories: Pasta

Author:Amy Stafford

I am the author, photographer and creator behind the blog A Healthy Life For Me. I am a food and fitness nut who loves Crossfit, Chocolate and Organic Gardening.

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