What does your favourite cheese say about your personality? (Spoiler alert: I’m having trouble picking just one favourite!)  With National Cheese Lover’s Day coming up on January 20, perhaps it’s time to dive in and find out! I admit, I’m a sucker for these types of quizzes and assessments. Who doesn’t love reading that they’re a healthy, great cook with impeccable taste? When people think of cheese, their mind often goes to different types of hard cheese like cheddar, or creamy brie. But soft cheeses such as ricotta and marscapone are versatile and delicious too.

Stuffed pasta shells – a great meal to share

Do you know someone going through a hard time that you’d like to bring a dish to? Attending a potluck? Looking for a family dinner idea that everyone will enjoy? These stuffed pasta shells are perfect; I have yet to find someone who is not a fan. In my circle of friends this meal always shows up when someone has a new baby. And, when I tested it in the office, it was gone in a flash. If you are giving this meal away, I would recommend using a disposable foil pan. Since this meal also freezes well, you could also ask in advance if the person would like to receive it fresh or frozen.

Tips for success

While making stuffed pasta shells takes more time than dumping a jar of sauce on spaghetti, the meal is worth it because everyone loves it! Here are my top tips:

  • Don’t be intimidated by the idea of stuffing the shells; it’s super quick and easy.
  • Cook extra pasta in case some shells break.
  • Cook the pasta al dente (tender but firm) so they hold their shape.
  • Separate the shells before they cool; they can get stuck inside each other when they cook.
  • Look for the little blue cow when buying cheese to ensure high quality Canadian milk was used.
  • Cottage cheese works instead of ricotta if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Double the recipe: keep one for your family then give one away or freeze it for another day.

Pair the pasta with a crisp salad and you’ve got a delicious meal to celebrate National Cheese Lover’s Day!

Looking for more?

Discover the types of cheese available, learn about the link between cheese and health or enjoy another recipe featuring cheese.

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Written by a Registered Dietitian.

Stuffed Pasta Shells
Prep Time
20 minutes
Cook Time
35 minutes
Yields
6

Ingredients

250 g (6 oz) jumbo pasta shells, about 16 (Tip: cook a few extra in case some break)
2 cups (500 g) ricotta cheese
1 cup (250 ml) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided in half
1/2 cup (125 ml) shredded Parmesan cheese, divided in half
1 cup (250 ml) chopped fresh spinach, about 1 large handful
1 egg
1 tbsp (15 ml) Italian seasoning
1/8 tsp (0.5 ml) pepper
1 jar (650 ml) low-sodium marinara or pasta sauce
fresh basil leaves (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F (190C).
  2. Cook pasta shells according to package instructions. Drain and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, mix ricotta, 1/2 cup (125 ml) mozzarella, 1/4 cup (60 ml) Parmesan, spinach, egg, Italian seasoning and pepper in a medium bowl.
  4. Spread 1/2 cup (125 ml) of pasta sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch (22x33 cm) pan.
  5. Spoon about 2 tbsp (30 ml) of filling into each cooked shell and place in the pan. Pour remaning pasta sauce on top.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle remaining cheese over top. Bake for about 5 minutes or until cheese melts.
  7. Garnish with fresh basil leaves if desired.

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Jaclyn
Read more by: Jaclyn
Jaclyn is a registered dietitian and nutrition educator with Dairy Farmers of Canada. She believes eating should be both nourishing and satisfying, and is passionate about helping others develop a healthy relationship with food. As a new mom with a cute and curious one-year old, the best recipes these days are quick, easy and delicious.

Alberta Milk, as a member of Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC), supports, collaborates and relies on the four Alberta-based DFC registered dietitians to deliver and develop nutrition resources, programs and communications to promote health and wellness. As registered dietitians we are credible, balanced and science-based. We belong to the College of Dietitians of Alberta and follow their Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. Our job is to translate the complex science of nutrition into practical advice for the general population. It is our view that milk and milk products are an important part of a healthy, balanced diet based on the four food groups, which is supported by health organizations such as Health Canada and Dietitians of Canada.

Member Of
College of Dietitians of Alberta
Dietitians of Canada