Skinny Italian Stuffed Shells, a Vegetarian Delight


stuffed-shells1 (2)

What a great dish for “Meatless Monday” or any day of the week! You’ll never miss the meat in this dreamy, cheesy dish. These little shells are stuffed with a combination of reduced-fat cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, spinach, onions and garlic. For ease, they’re topped with my favorite jarred pasta sauce. The skinny for 1 serving, 273 calories, 5 grams of fat and 7 Weight Watchers SmartPoints.  Just yummy!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes


12 jumbo pasta shells (4 ounces), I used Barilla jumbo shells

½ slice whole wheat or multi-grain bread to make homemade bread crumbs (about ⅓ cup whole wheat dry breadcrumbs) I used Milton’s Multigrain bread

1 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1¼ cups onion, finely chopped

2 teaspoons garlic, minced (~2 cloves)

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

1¼ cups reduced-fat cottage cheese

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided

¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning

Fresh ground pepper, to taste

1 egg white, lightly beaten

1½ cups jarred pasta sauce, I love Classico Tomato Basil


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9” baking dish with cooking spay and set aside.

2. Cook shells in a large pot of boiling water, stirring often and cook until just tender, according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

3. In the meantime, in a blender, add ½ slice bread, including crust. Grind into crumbs. Set aside.

4. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and cook, stirring often, until onions are soft. Stir in thawed spinach and mix well. Set aside.

5. In a medium bowl, combine cottage cheese, bread crumbs and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese.  Mix well.  Stir in cooked onions and spinach. Stir in the egg white. Season with Italian seasonings and fresh ground pepper, to taste.

6. Stuff each of the cooked shells with a generous 2 tablespoons of the cottage cheese mixture. Spread ½ cup pasta sauce in the bottom of a 9” baking dish. Arrange stuffed shells in a single layer, 3 rows of 5 shells. Top shells with remaining 1 cup sauce and sprinkle with the remaining 1½ tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, until the top is golden and the shells are heated through. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings (3 shells per serving)

Food Facts

Meatless Mondays started During World War I.  The U.S. Food Administration urged families to reduce consumption of key staples to aid the war effort. “Food Will Win the War,” the government proclaimed and “Meatless Monday” was introduced to encourage Americans to do their part.

Meatless Monday was revived in 2003 by former ad man turned health advocate Sid Lerner, who saw the prevalence of preventable illnesses associated with excessive meat consumption and decided to introduce Meatless Monday as a public health awareness campaign.

Meatless Monday has since turned into a global movement with a wide network of participating hospitals, schools, worksites and restaurants around the globe.

Healthy Benefits

Spinach is considered to be one of the “Super Foods.” No wonder…It’s rich in iron, vitamins A, C and beta-carotene.

Garlic promotes circulation and lowers cholesterol. It also contains sulfur compounds that may help to prevent cancer growth.

Many studies have linked higher consumption of cooked tomato products with reduced risk of prostate and other cancers. Tomato products contains some B vitamins along with vitamin C.

Serving Tip

Serve with a simple salad or vegetable such as, my recipe for Simple and Delicious Roasted Asparagus. To make this dinner even heartier, start off the meal with a cup of soup.

Weight Watchers SmartPoints
Weight Watchers POINTS PLUS
Weight Watchers
(old points) 5

SKINNY FACTS: for 3 shells
273 calories, 5g fat, 2g sat. fat, 12mg chol, 21g protein, 39g carbs, 5g fiber, 712mg sodium, 8g sugar
FACTS: for SmartPoints
237 calories, 2g sat. fat, 8g sugar, 17g protein