Vegetable Stuffed Shells
1 pkg large pasta shells
1 8-oz carton nonfat cottage cheese
1 red pepper*, Cored and seeded
4 oz fresh mushrooms
1-2 zucchini*, peeled and shredded on a box grater
6 oz fresh spinach*
8 oz mozzarella cheese, grated and divided
1/3 c. grated parmesan cheese
½ c. fresh bread crumbs
1 t. each onion powder, garlic powder, dried basil and dried rosemary
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1 jar pasta sauce of choice (optional add-in could be chopped roma tomatoes and some extra mushrooms)
Cook shells in boiling water until firm but tender, do not cook for full amount of time stated on package. Shells should still be firm to the feel. (they will stuff and cook better this way) Heat oven to 375
Place entire contents of cottage cheese in bowl of food processor and process until smooth, it should resemble ricotta cheese. Scrape into large bowl. Add red pepper chunks to food processor and pulse 3-5 times or until finely minced. Add to bowl with cottage cheese. De-stem mushrooms and break into food processor bowl, pulse 2-4 times or until finely minced. Add to cheese mix, repeat with spinach, pulsing until finely minced. Add seasonings and bread crumbs. Stir cheese and veggies to mix. Grate 4 oz of mozzarella cheese into bowl, add all grated Parmesan and stir thoroughly to mix. Spread about ½ c. of pasta sauce on bottom of 9×13 pan. Stuff shells with cheese/veggie mix and place in pan on sauce. Spoon remaining sauce on top of shells and top with remaining grated mozzarella. Bake until heated through and bubbly, about 20-25 minutes.
*Recipe Notes: Fresh vegetables have a lot of water in them, and to avoid having a watery finished dish, squeeze the excess water from the pepper once it is chopped in the processor. I placed it in a wire mesh strainer and pressed out the liquid. With the zucchini, I grated it into a colander and tossed it with kosher salt, then let it drain for 10 minutes. Rinse well. Press it in a wire strainer also. Fresh spinach shouldn’t be too weepy; should you use frozen, make sure to squeeze out the water. I wouldn’t recommend adding fresh tomato to the mixture as it will make them watery.