Lightened Up Stuffed Shells

Happy New Year's Eve Everyone! This lightened up recipe is from last night's dinner, which also served as a delicious, quick lunch today that I could simply heat up in the microwave. The reason this is lightened up is that there is no ricotta cheese, and the shells are stuffed with lean ground beef and vegetables. I decided to make a small batch of these as I wasn't sure how they'd come out. Therefore, please note that I only used enough shells to fill a 8x8 Pyrex baking dish. I had some ground beef mixture left over that you could use for various things - add to marinara to make a bolognese sauce, throw in a taco, etc. This came out really yummy and is great for a party of 2! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 tb olive oil

non-stick cooking spray

1 lb lean ground beef (you could use 1/2 pound if you don't want leftover ground beef mixture)

1/2 zucchini, cut into bite size pieces

1/2 cup carrots, shredded or diced (I use the prepackaged shredded carrots)

1-2 cloves garlic, diced

1/2 shallot, diced

~2 cups marinara sauce (~1/3 cup to go into beef mixture)

dash of salt and pepper

dash of Italian seasoning

~6 oz shells pasta (I used about 1/2 of a normal box, maybe a little less)

1/2 cup shredded Italian blend cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shells and cook for approximately 9-10 minutes. While the pasta is cooking, in a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add the carrots and zucchini and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add the ground beef and stir well to combine with the vegetables. Cook until the ground beef is browned and cooked through. Stir in the salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and approximately 1/3 cup of the marinara sauce. When the pasta is done, drain and set aside on a baking sheet or plate to cool for a couple of minutes.

Spray a baking dish with the non-stick cooking spray. Arrange the shells in the baking dish so that they're facing up. Stuff the shells with the ground beef mixture. Top each shell with marinara sauce and the Italian shredded cheese. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the cheese is melted.

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