This recipe is from the latest issue of Everyday Food magazine and was their “Dinner on the Cheap” feature. Generally, I ignore that feature because I believe that food should never be cheap. If I’m going spend money on something it’s going to be on something as important as the food that I put in my body and provide for my family. This time I was intrigued about the added shredded zucchini and whether my family would notice it. I didn’t sneak it though and disclosed it before they took a bite. Trust is important too. Happily they loved this recipe and have requested that I make it again. I made some adjustments to the original recipe because I thought the layer of pepperoni was unneccesary.

Stuffed Shells with Zucchini

(adapted from October 2012 issue of Everyday Food)

  • 2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups finely grated zucchini
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon eash of coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 3 cups marinara sauce, divided
  • 3/4 pound cooked and crumbled hamburger
  • 32 jumbo pasta shells, cooked according to package instructions (Place cooked shells onto a lined cookie sheet until ready to fill so they don’t stick together.)
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place grated zucchini in a colander lined with paper towels and squeeze any excess liquid. In a medium bowl combine ricotta cheese, zucchini, basil, salt and pepper. Pour 1 cup of the marinara sauce into a 9×13-inch glass casserole dish and spread evenly.

Fill each pasta shell with about 1 tablespoon of the ricotta mixture and place in the casserole dish. Filled shells should be in one layer but can be crowded together to fit.

Sprinkle the hamburger over the layer of shells and top with the remaining 2 cups of marinara sauce and then mozzarella cheese. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling.  Remove foil and bake another 3-5 minutes until the cheese is slightly browned.

Garnish each serving with basil and serve hot.

We all rate this recipe 5 stars. Me, because it’s a lot easier to make than lasagna and it’s basically the same thing… everyone else, because it’s delicious.