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I recently discovered the joys of manicotti, so the other night I thought I would roll that new found joy over to stuffed shells, similar concept with a different shaped pasta. I wanted to jazz up the ricotta filling, so I added some sundried tomato pesto to the filling and BAM! Now we’ve got something! This is actually a pretty easy dish, but it’s very impressive!
This was a great vegetarian dish and could be served alone with bread and salad. I had my kids coming over for dinner and needed to stretch the food out a bit, so I also decided to serve Italian sausages on the side. This worked out great and would be a great way to serve a meal if you had both carnivores and vegetarians in your midst.

I made a slow cooked batch of my marinara sauce. I used most of the sauce with my stuffed shells, but I left about a cup or so in the pan and added my cooked, sliced Italian sausage and tossed this in the sauce. So as folks moved through the dinner buffet, they had a pan of spicy Italian turkey sausages, a pan of stuffed shells, salad and fresh baked bread to choose from. It was a nice hearty dinner, but gave people choices and options to make healthy ones.

Stuffed Shells

1 batch of homemade marinara or 1-2 jars of readymade marinara

1 box of large pasta shells

1 – 16 oz container of low-fat ricotta

½ cup parmesan cheese, divided

1 egg

4 large fresh basil leaves, diced

2-3 tablespoons pesto sauce (I used jarred sundried tomato pesto)

1 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese, grated

Salt and pepper to taste

Boil a large pot of salted water and then add shells. Boil for 9 minutes, drain and then set on sheet pan to dry further and cool. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cheese, egg, basil, pesto, ¼ cup parmesan cheese and salt and pepper. Use a spoon to add stuffing into shells. Spread enough marinara to cover the bottom of a baking pan. Place stuffed shells in baking pay and spoon marinara sauce over shells. You want them fairly covered. Sprinkle mozzarella and remaining parmesan cheese over shells. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until cheese is well melted.