I first found this recipe when I was living in my little one bedroom apartment above a photography studio in an old-fashioned Pennsylvania town.
I first prepared it when I was dating this guy long-distance and he was coming to visit me for the weekend. I think I wanted to impress him.
Honestly, I don’t remember how it turned out. I just remember how little I cared about the food once that guy showed up at my door.
The second time I made it, I had taken my relationship with that guy to the next level and had moved to Maryland to live with him. I served it when he had some friends over for dinner. His friend asked for hot sauce and immediately drenched his shells in it. I’m still mad at that guy for it, even though we’re not friends with him anymore.
This was my third time. The boyfriend is now my husband and we had just moved back to New York. We’d invited my family over for dinner and I decided to make these shells for them. The nice thing about it is that it can be prepared way in advance, so all I had to do when people were over was to get off the couch and put it in the oven.
Start off with some fresh, juicy baby portabellas.
I do love that colander. All the mushrooms get diced when they’re clean.
Sure makes for a lot. It occurred to me after I was done with this that I could have saved a lot of time by doing it with my food processor. Ah well.
Yep, definitely should have used the food processor. The onions made me cry.
But the garlic was easy (I used the stuff from a jar).
First step is to sizzle all the mushrooms, onions, and garlic in a big skillet.
It’ll cook down after a bit.
When you’re satisfied with it, add a pound of ground turkey. It had been a long time since I’d used ground turkey, and I’m not sure why. It’s good, and a lot healthier than beef.
Cook it up a bit.
Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper. I tend to forget that. Not this time!
While that was happening, I had prepped some other things. Here’s some fresh parsley.
And some frozen chopped spinach. It was in a bowl because I was thawing it in the microwave.
When the turkey was cooked thoroughly, I added the spinach (after squeezing out the water) and the chopped parsley.
And then a whole bunch of cottage cheese. I think I chose a reduced fat container of it.
And finally, some grated Parmesan cheese.
When it’s all mixed in, this is what it looked like.
I waited until this point to boil the jumbo shells because I really wanted to give the mixture a chance to cool down before sticking my fingers in it. I remembered from last time how hard it was to stuff the shells when the mixture is hot.
Once they were boiled and drained, I put them next to the cheese and turkey mixture in preparation for stuffing.
As far as stuffed shells go, these were so pretty!
Am I right? I’m right, I know.
As for topping them, this is what I had: “Grandpa’s Sauce” from Wegman’s and grated skim milk mozzarella. I’d never had that sauce before, but that name is pretty effective marketing. I needed it and I’ve never even had a Grandpa to make homemade sauce before.
Covered with foil and put it in the fridge until later. I made a big mess but had plenty of time to clean it up!
Fresh out of the oven, this is what it looked like.
And once it was served up, this is what it looked like.
None of the ingredients alone stood out – no one seemed aware of the mushrooms or the turkey or the cottage cheese – but they all worked very well together. The taste just works.
Definitely too much work for a normal weeknight, but it’s certainly doable on weekends and well worth the effort.
And they make for good leftovers. Hubby had them for lunch at work and I should have frozen some for later, too. Mmmm!