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Makeover Cheese-Stuffed Shells

You'll love the great flavor in these shells. Our Test Kitchen made them over without using any reduced-fat ingredients, yet still saved a ton on fat and calories!
  • Total Time
    Prep: 35 min. Bake: 50 min.
  • Makes
    12 servings


  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
  • 1 Italian turkey sausage link (4 ounces), casing removed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups 4% cottage cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
  • 24 jumbo pasta shells, cooked and drained
  • SAUCE:
  • 3 cans (8 ounces each) no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  • Crumble beef and sausage into a large nonstick skillet; add onion. Cook and stir over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
  • Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the spinach, ricotta and egg. Add 1 cup mozzarella cheese, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese, Italian seasoning, pepper and cinnamon if desired; mix well.
  • Stuff pasta shells with meat mixture. Arrange in two 11x7-in. baking dishes coated with cooking spray. Combine the sauce ingredients; spoon over shells.
  • Cover and bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Nutrition Facts
2 each: 318 calories, 14g fat (8g saturated fat), 79mg cholesterol, 714mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 2g fiber), 25g protein.
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Average Rating:
  • selena777
    Mar 3, 2013

    No comment left

  • Jenni515
    Dec 6, 2010

    No comment left

  • shugarmomma
    Jul 28, 2010

    My family loves this dish. I have five kids so getting 10 thumbs up on any one dish is difficult! Everyone agreed and it is a "make again" as we call it.

  • spartan29
    Dec 4, 2009

    Excellent! This is an expensive recipe and I make it on special occasions. Last year I made it for Easter and this year I got requests for it for New Years. Everyone absolutely loved it. You would never know it had been lightened. The only change I made was that I didn't make the sauce. I poured a good store-bought sauce over the shells and they were wonderful.

  • MargeAZ
    Apr 23, 2009

    Too many cheeses used in this recipe.  There's no reason to use cottage cheese AND ricotta.  And, I've never seen cheddar cheese used in stuffed shells.   My family wouldn't eat it.  To us, Italian cheeses are ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, and these are the only ones I'd use in stuffed shells or lasagna. There's very little flavor difference when using low-fat cheeses, so I don't consider this a makeover recipe.  My own recipe has less fat!  I use low-fat ricotta, 2% Mozzarella, and no sausage.  I haven't found a turkey sausage that tastes good to my family.  I also don't put ground beef in the stuffed shells, I make a meat sauce instead with less ground beef (93% lean.)

  • Lisa_Ann
    Nov 12, 2008

    No comment left

  • KWhitehead
    Aug 1, 2008

    Very good, although a weee bit expensive for my budget (with all of the different cheeses). Will definitely make again, but perhaps for special occasions.

  • wrenwreath
    Apr 1, 2008

    No comment left

  • beviebev
    Mar 18, 2008

    No comment left