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Monday, December 16, 2013

Comfort Food Monday: Stuffed Pasta Shells in Creamy Pesto Sauce

When one hears the word "comfort food," things like low-fat, low-carb, gluten-free, dairy-free or sugar-free don't usually come to mind. This dish is definitely none of those things...well, it's definitely low on sugar, but that's for later in the week :).

That being said, if I can make a dish lower in calories without dramatically changing the taste I do.This dish is made with low-fat ricotta, 1% milk, and kale. See!? I'm obviously your new health guru. Throw in a side salad and goodbye guilt, hello pasta.

This pasta bake is full of creamy ricotta, pesto and tangy sun dried tomatoes. So good. I let mine bake a little longer than planned, so if you like your past to be a little saucier, simply bake this for around 45 minutes instead of an hour. Either way, you really can't lose.

Speaking of healthy, I'm gearing up for an extremely health filled weekend. It's time for my families annual Christmas Cookie Extravaganza, and I'm super excited to spend a day with my grandma, mom and sister. It's my favorite Christmas tradition! What's yours? 

Stuffed Pasta Shells in Creamy Pesto Sauce 
12 oz. jumbo pasta shells
1 egg
15 oz. ricotta cheese (I used low-fat)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1 cup kale, cooked (I lightly sauteed mine)
1 clove garlic, finely diced
Salt & pepper to taste

1 tbs. butter
3 tbs. flour
3 cups milk (I used 1%)
1 clove garlic, finely diced
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shaved or grated
6 tbs. pesto
Salt & pepper to taste

1. In a medium bowl, whisk egg. Add ricotta, parmesan cheese and sour cream and mix thoroughly. Add sun dried tomatoes, kale, garlic and plenty of fresh ground pepper and a dash of salt. Set aside.
2. Heat a small saucepan to medium heat and add butter. Once butter has melted, add flour and use a whisk to mix. Let butter and flour cook for about a minute, whisking frequently. Add milk, and turn heat to medium-high.
3. Allow milk to reach a slow simmer, whisking frequently. Add garlic, parmesan cheese and pesto. Let cook until sauce thickens, stirring so the bottom doesn't burn. Season with salt and pepper to taste, set aside.
4. Cook pasta shells until almost al dente, they will cook further in the oven. Fill pasta shells with the ricotta mixture, about 1/2 to 1 tbs. per shell (I had a few shells left over). Place shells into a oven safe baking pan.
5. Cover shells with pesto sauce and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes. I cooked mine for about 60, but if you want this dish to be a little saucier, I would recommend about 45 minutes.

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