Roasted Broccoli & Spinach Stuffed Shells! I’ve been making this for dinner for a while now, it has become one of my kitchen go-to’s. It is simple, packed with veggies and creamy cheese. I can make it in advance and then bake it when we are ready to eat. The leftovers also taste pretty dang good!
Truthfully, broccoli has proven to be the only green vegetable Mila will consume with zero fight. So I’ve been trying to toss it into everything I do. Mila eats these stuffed shells with ease even with the spinach because her weakness is pasta and cheese. One trick I’ve learned is that I can pretty much sneak anything into a pasta of some sort. For example, I add diced carrots into our spaghetti sauce. I’ll mash up an avocado into her mac and cheese. I always blend a handful of spinach into her smoothies too. Some days are hard and all she wants is a cake pop from Starbucks and screams at me. But most days I play veggie ninja and get the job done. Mila is a pretty good eater all around, but turning three has done something fierce with her attitude lately …. We are working on it!
This recipe is so simple in that it is just giant pasta shells stuffed with cheese and vegetables. I find this meal to be kid-friendly as the veggies are all tossed together with and covered in cheese. Mila has never met a noodle she doesn’t like and the larger than life pasta shells are fun.
Try tossing this together for dinner this week or next. Or make a batch and eat for lunch during the week!
Photos by Lily Ro Photography
What You Need
-Two heads of broccoli or one bag of broccoli florets
-One full bag of jumbo pasta shells
-3 tablespoons of olive oil
-2 cups of fresh spinach
-1 15 oz. tub of ricotta cheese
-1/2 tablespoon granulated garlic
-1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
-1/3 tablespoon pepper for stuffing mixture
-salt and pepper for broccoli
-2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
What You Do
-Start by roasted your broccoli. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Lay out your broccoli florets on to a baking sheet. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. With your hands toss the broccoli and make sure the oil and seasoning coats each piece. Bake the broccoli for about 15 minutes or until fork tender and the tops of each floret are starting to brown and crisp.
-In a large pot start your water to boil. Cook your pasta shells and drain when they are soft but still have a bit of bite to them. You don’t want to over cook them as they will turn mushy during the stuffing process. Once the pasta shells are cooked and drained set them aside to cool a bit before you handle them. Drizzle a little olive oil and toss them around. This way they don’t stick to each other while they cool.
-In a bowl mix together your; ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, granulated garlic, pepper and oregano.
-Then mix in your spinach. I like to add my spinach as is, but you can chop it up to better hide it if you want. I also like the way the dish looks when keeping the spinach leafs, they add nice color when they peak out. If you chop them up though it will taste the same and I bet some kids would be more likely to eat it if they can see the spinach leaves in full. ;)
-Now comes the fun part. Stuff a piece of broccoli into each pasta shell and then layer the spinach cheese mixture over it. Do this with each pasta shell until you have a full tray. Line them up in a baking dish as you go. Set up an assembly line to making things go faster! If your kids are old enough, have them help you!
-Lastly, sprinkle the stuffed pasta shells with mozzarella cheese and a quick drizzle of olive oil. I also like to sprinkle on a tiny bit more oregano too.
-You can now cover your shells and keep in the fridge until you are ready to bake OR bake them right away in a 375 degree oven. Bake the shells for about 15-20 minutes or until bubbling hot.
-Store the left overs in an air tight container for up to a week.
A note from my husband Dan … “Tell them they can add chicken or Italian sausage!” Dan isn’t a true fan of our meatless meals, he always asks for a protein of some sort. I thought I’d add in his tip here in case you wanted to serve with chicken or sausage. I’d layer slices of cooked chicken or sausage in between the stuffed shells prior to baking. Or keep it vegetarian. Enjoy!