Ground Turkey and Spinach Stuffed Shells

Thursday, February 09, 2017

I don't think I will ever get sick of Italian food. I cook at least one dish with red sauce and pasta every week! So many popular Italian recipes use ground beef, which is high in fat. I have replaced extra lean ground turkey for just about every Italian dish and have never been disappointed! I don't miss ground beef at all. With the right seasonings, you can make restaurant quality Italian food 10x healthier just by substituting ground turkey for beef!

I've made this dish a couple times now and each time it gets better and better. There's just something about the ricotta and cottage cheese blend that I can't get enough of! And I know I sound like a broken record over here, but the leftovers are SO GOOD! I. love. leftovers. 

Not only are these stuffed shells delicious, they are also macro friendly. With 7.5g Fat, 26g Carbs, and 31g Protein (macros vary depending on the ingredients you use) you can eat these babies guilt-free! The shells I used were labeled "jumbo" on the package, but they really were not HUGE. That being said, the serving size was 56g dry. So I weighed them on my handy dandy kitchen scale and that is EIGHT shells! Holy macaroni that's a lot once they are stuffed with all the cheesy, meaty goodness! The serving size I set for this recipe is 4 jumbo stuffed shells and I find that to plenty. My husband eats 5 max and thats saying something! I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! 

If you are new to cooking ground turkey, I'm here to tell it you its all about the spice. For Italian recipes I always saute garlic in olive oil, then add the ground turkey to the pan and season with salt, pepper and an Italian seasoning blend. Cooking garlic in the pan before adding the turkey is also great for heating the pan up! "Plopping" the turkey into the hot pan and letting it brown on the bottom (about 1 minute) before breaking it up adds SO much flavor. Brown=YUM when it comes to cooking :)

For this recipe I have used both frozen and fresh spinach. Frozen takes a bit more time to prepare, but you do get more for your buck! The two pictures below are taken about 10 seconds apart. Don't be afraid to load up that spinach in the pan! It will wilt down to 1/4 of the size in no time.


Once the turkey and spinach are cooked, mix together with ricotta and cottage cheese. This recipe calls for part-skim (or 2% ricotta) and reduced fat cottage cheese. Be mindful of nutrition labels when getting fat free or reduced fat products! Many times the manufacturers add in extra sugar in order to improve taste. Compare the labels of full fat, reduced fat and fat free products and choose the one that fits your needs best! 



Now stuff those shells with the cheesy, meaty goodness and top with your favorite red sauce! 




Serve with your favorite veggie and top with some fresh grated parmesan if you so choose! I roasted up some broccoli with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.

Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Servings: 5 (4 shells per serving)

Macros:
7.5g Fat, 26g Carbs, 31g Protein
Macros will vary depending on the ingredients you use. 

Ingredients:
6 oz Jumbo shells
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb extra lean (99%) ground turkey
7 oz part-skim Ricotta cheese
3/4 cup reduced fat cottage cheese
1 bag fresh spinach or 1 package frozen
12 oz of your favorite red pasta sauce 

Directions:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F
  2. Cook noodles as directed. Drain and run under cool water
  3. While noodles are cooking, saute the garlic in about 1 Tbsp of oliveoil for 2 minutes then season the turkey with salt, pepper and italian seasoning and add to pan, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. You may need to add more olive oil. Set aside.
  4. In same pan, saute the spinach until wilted. Add about 1-2 Tbsp of water to the bottom of the pan, spinach on top and "steam". Or cook frozen spinach as directed. 
  5. In a large bowl, combine ricotta, cottage cheese, ground turkey and spinach and mix until combined. 
  6. Cover the bottom a baking dish with a thin layer of red sauce. Fill each shell with filling, and place in baking dish. Top with more red sauce.
  7. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes. 
  8. Top with fresh parmesan and pair with your favorite veggie for a complete dinner!
SUGGESTION: veggies (broccoli, asparagus, brussel sprouts, zucchini, etc.) roast perfectly at the same temperature for about 15 minutes depending on the veggie! 


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