Vegetarian Stuffed Shells: The Right Place at the Right Time
So stuffed shells has been one of those dishes that has been a family favorite since my wife and I were dating. I threw it together one night because I thought it might be fun to take traditional lasagna stuffing and put it into shell pasta. My wife loved them. For a while they were the best dish she ever had (or so she said…)
However, stuffed shells require stuffing and, frankly, lasagna speaks to my inner lazy so we do not eat them that offen. Still, we do keep a box of shells around just in case.
Just in case happened this weekend. Normally, we do grocery shopping on the weekends, but last week we just never made it to the store. So come Sunday night, the pantry was bare. No fresh fruit. A few onions formed the bulk of the fresh veggie supplies… We had no bread that was not stale, no milk, no yeast… We were sunk.
What we did have was some Rondele Garden Vegetable spreadable cheese and frozen spinach, a can of tomato sauce, and of course, the abovementioned shells. And thus, we had dinner.
You will need: (meat items are highlighted in orange):
- 2 1/4 tablespoons, salt
- 2 tablespoons, garlic powder
- 1 large box of shell pasta
- 1 package, frozen spinach
- 3 tablespoons, olive oil
- 1 white onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 package faux breakfast sausage or real sausage
- 1 tablespoon, breadcrumbs of smashed crackers
- 1/2 container of Rondo veggie spread
- 2 12.5 oz cans of tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to the 350 degrees.
If you are using real sausage, put it in an oven safe dish and bake for 20 minutes. Once it has been cooked through, drain the grease. If you skip this step, all you will taste is sausage grease.
Make the Shells
Add two tablespoons of salt and all the garlic powder to a pot and add enough water to cover the shells. Bring the water to boil and add the pasta. Follow the cook time listed on the box.
Make the Vegetarian Filling
Take the spinach out of the freezer and let it thaw.
While the pasta is boiling, heat a skillet over high heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil. When it is hot, add the onion, the rest of the salt, and the garlic. Cook until the onions are translucent. Then add meat (faux or not) to the skillet and cook until fully browned.
Add the spinach and the breadcrumbs to the mixture and cook until the spinach is heated through. Turn off the heat, add the Rondo and stir until well mixed.
Pull out a large baking dish (my wife used a thirteen inch baking dish) and cover the bottom with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and about half of one can of tomato sauce. Then stuff each shell with one heaping spoon full of mixture (do not overstuff unless you want exploded shells.) Put the shells in the baking dish open side down.
Once you are done stuffing all the shells, cover with the rest of the tomato sauce and mozzarella and bake until the cheese is melted and slightly brown.
More Italian Tomorrow
Tomorrow we’ll be talking lasagna and then I think I’ll try bread gnocchi. Then maybe I’ll take the plunge and we’ll do real vegan gnocchi. Until then, enjoy!