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posted: 5/1/2013 6:00 AM

Vegetables boost healthfulness of stuffed shells

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  • A little tinkering and some added vegetables make Vegetable-Stuffed Shells more healthful without ruining their popularity.

      A little tinkering and some added vegetables make Vegetable-Stuffed Shells more healthful without ruining their popularity.
    Katherine Frey/The Washington Post

 
By Stephanie Witt Sedgwick
Special to The Washington Post

Homestyle Italian American dishes such as lasagna and stuffed shells endure for good reason: They are filling family favorites. A little tinkering and some added vegetables make these dishes more healthful without ruining the qualities that make them so popular.

In this recipe, a big pan of carrots, zucchini and onions serves a dual purpose: Half of the mixture becomes the base of the pasta sauce, and half is added to the filling for the stuffed shells.

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Pasta shells for stuffing vary in size. Here, jumbo shells are called for. Figure on four per person, and be careful not to overcook them, or they will open too wide and won't be able to hold the filling. If you use shells of a different size, stick with the total weight (5 ounces) of dried pasta.

Note that the filling can be made and refrigerated up to 12 hours in advance. The filled shells can be baked a day in advance, cooled, refrigerated and then reheated. Make sure the shells are well covered with sauce if you're planning to cook ahead and reheat later. Freezing the filled shells is not recommended.

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