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Kid-Friendly Meals: Stuffed Shells with Carrots, Zucchini, and Tofu

Updated on June 20, 2012
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5 stars from 2 ratings of Stuffed Shells

Made with jumbo pasta shells stuffed with cheeses, meats, or vegetables, stuffed shells is easy to make, delicious, and a sure fire hit with kids and adults alike.

This recipe expands on a basic stuffed shells recipe to include some healthy additions - shredded carrots, shredded zucchini, and mashed tofu. If your kids are like mine, getting them to eat their vegetables can be a challenge, but with this recipe they don't even notice that they are there.

Veggies: To Hide or Not To Hide

Several recent books have been devoted to teaching parents how to "hide" vegetables in foods to increase veggie intake among their picky toddlers and preschoolers. Some parents, doctors, and experts oppose this method, suggesting that it doesn't help children learn to like the taste of vegetables or promote healthy eating habits. Others oppose it, saying it's a "deceptive" practice.

As with most things, I advocate a middle ground. I think it's fine to hide veggies where you can. It helps boost their intake of nutrients and might even train their tastebuds to like a wider variety of food, even if they are unaware that they are eating it. At the same time, I believe that it's a good idea to continue exposing children to vegetables and other healthy foods in their natural state so that they have the opportunity to realize that they actually like vegetables.

In my experience, kids tastes change. One day they might be completely unwilling to touch broccoli and then one night they eat only broccoli for dinner (yes, my son did this one night!). Keep exposing them, trying different cooking methods, and making funny faces with cherry tomato eyes, zucchini noses, spaghetti squash lips, and red pepper slice ears, but still add veggies to every day dishes.

Have the Kids Help

One great thing about this recipe is that the kids can help, and we all know kids are more likely to eat their own creations. They can help by:

  • Mashing the tofu
  • Cracking the egg
  • Cutting the zucchini
  • Mixing the cheese mixture
  • Spooning the cheese mixture into the shells
  • Drizzling the tomato sauce on top
  • Spreading the cheese on top

Ingredients

  • 1 box jumbo shells
  • 1-2 cups crushed tomatoes with basi
  • 1-2 carrots, shredded
  • 2 cups ricotta (full or low-fat)
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (divided)
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese (divided)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup smashed tofu
  • 1 zucchini, shredded

Directions

  1. Cook the shells according the directions until al dente. Drain and cool by running cold water over the shells
  2. Add shredded carrots to the crushed tomatoes.
  3. Spread a layer of the tomatoes on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  4. Combine ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, 1/2 cup parmesan, egg, tofu, and zucchini. Mix until combined.
  5. Spoon the cheese mixture into the shells. Arrange shells in the baking dish.
  6. Drizzle with tomato mixture.
  7. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan and mozzarella cheese.
  8. Cover with tin foil.
  9. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, until bubbly.
  10. Uncover and bake 5 minutes.
  11. Serve and enjoy!

Step 5: Shells, stuffed with cheese and zucchini mixture

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Step 6: Shells drizzled with tomato sauce

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Step 7: Shells sprinkled with mozzarella

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The Final Product. Enjoy!

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Serve with a kid-friendly vegetable dish

While the stuffed shells cook, choose one of these easy, kid-friendly vegetable dishes to serve on the side. Add a green salad, and voila, dinner for the whole family.

Comments

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    • LauraGT profile image
      Author

      LauraGT 5 years ago from MA

      Thanks, everyone. These are yummy. There are also lots of other ways to doctor them up and make the dish healthier overall. Try substituting some yogurt for the ricotta, or using other veggies you like.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 5 years ago from sunny Florida

      My daughter makes this. It is a great dish for the kidoes and the rest of the family loves it as well. She even uses the tofu. She had not seen a recipe where others have used it. I will have to show her this.

      It is such a tasty dish. Your instructions are clear and easy to follow. Thank you for sharing this.

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 5 years ago

      These looks wonderful! A co-worker recently made stuffed shells and I commented how delicious they were, as I really have never made them before. I will try your recipe!

    • Meguchan profile image

      Meguchan 5 years ago from US West Coast

      This looks delicious! I will definitely be trying it out.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Forget the kids! I want to make these stuff shells for me! My mouth is watering from the photos, no kidding! Sharing this one!