It looks like your usual stuffed shells, but hidden under the cheese, pepperoni, and marinara is an ingredient that may surprise you. It's your secret to tell. Or not.
Photography: Romulo Yanes
Source: Everyday Food, October 2012
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
2 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta (20 ounces)
1 1/4 cups grated zucchini (from 1 medium zucchini)
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving
1 large egg, beaten
Coarse salt and pepper
3 cups marinara, divided
28 jumbo pasta shells (7 ounces total), cooked according to package instructions
26 small pepperoni slices (2 ounces total)
3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella (3 ounces)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, zucchini, basil, and egg; season with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Spread 1 cup marinara in a 9-by-13-inch broiler-proof baking dish. Fill each shell with 1 heaping tablespoon ricotta mixture and arrange in an even layer in dish. Top with remaining 2 cups marinara, then pepperoni and mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake until sauce is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Heat broiler, remove foil, and broil until cheese is browned in spots, about 3 minutes. Top with additional basil and serve.
Zucchini gives this dish freshness, lightness, and a green vegetable. Because it's grated instead of chopped, the addition won't make the end result too watery.