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Ratatouille-Stuffed Shells

I am a bona fide lover of ratatouille, the classic French provincial dish of eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers and tomatoes. Every time I try a new recipe for ratatouille I say it’s my new favorite, and today is no exception.

We all need to get in our daily servings of vegetables, so why not stuff them into pasta and top with cheese? What’s not to love? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this is my new favorite way to serve ratatouille.

The recipe, from Cooking Light, uses jarred marinara sauce to make it speedier to assemble, and canned chickpeas. I left out the chickpeas, not because I don’t like them but because I am a ratatouille purist. You can certainly add them in for extra protein.

Cooking Light says that each serving is 4 stuffed shells, but 3 is plenty, and leftovers heat up beautifully for dinner with a little extra marinara sauce. If you don’t like eggplant, no problem, just use extra zucchini. Remember to dice the veggies small enough to fit into a cooked pasta shell.

16 uncooked jumbo pasta shells 1 Tbsp. olive oil 3/4 cup chopped onion 1 Tbsp. minced garlic 1 1/2 cups diced eggplant 1 cup diced red bell pepper 3/4 cup diced zucchini 3/4 cup chopped plum tomato 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained 1 3/4 cups jarred marinara sauce (with no added sugar) 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil 3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 1/2 tsp. kosher salt Cooking spray 4 oz. (about 1 cup) pre-shredded Italian 5-cheese blend

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté 2 minutes. Add eggplant and bell pepper; cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add zucchini, tomato and chickpeas (if using). Cover and cook 4 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in 1 cup marinara sauce, 1/2 cup basil, black pepper and salt.

Coat a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Spread remaining 3/4 cup marinara sauce over bottom of dish. Spoon about 2 Tbsp. vegetable mixture into each pasta shell. Arrange filled shells in dish and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 450 degrees F. for 12 minutes. Top with remaining 2 Tbsp. basil.

Serves 4

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