Baked Stuffed Shells


I learned about Terry Walters’ cookbook Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source from Larry’s Aunt Ellen. She introduced me to the recipe for Sweet and Savory Root Vegetable Stew, which uses a variety of winter veggies like rutabagas, turnips, sweet potatoes, celeriac, etc. I loaded up on these veggies at a recent farmers’ market, and made a batch of the stew over the weekend. We have plenty of leftovers to freeze and use for healthy sides for weeks to come.

My positive experience with the vegetable stew made me want to explore the cookbook further. I checked out a copy from the library and looked through the “winter” recipes over the weekend. I was drawn to the baked stuffed shells, and made the dish for dinner the other night. Surprisingly, I think it’s the first time I’ve ever cooked with tofu. And possibly collard greens. I used regular mozzarella in place of the soy or rice mozzarella, but otherwise kept to the original recipe. It’s not a super speedy weeknight meal, but it’s one you can tackle on a weeknight if you have a little extra time. I really enjoyed this meal and will definitely make it again.

Baked Stuffed Shells (slightly adapted from Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source; serves 4)

8 oz. large pasta shells
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup mirin
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 1/2 pounds fresh firm tofu (not silken)
2 bunches kale or collard greens, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups tomato sauce
1 cup grated soy or rice mozzarella (I used regular mozzarella)

Cook shells according to directions on package. Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare filling: In a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat, sauté the garlic and onions in olive oil until soft (about 5 minutes). Add mirin, basil and parsley and stir. Press the tofu with paper towels to remove excess liquid. Crumble tofu into the pot, mix with other ingredients and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the chopped greens to the skillet and continue cooking until soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

Assemble: Spoon the filling into the shells and place in a 9 x 12-inch lasagna pan. Cover stuffed shells with tomato sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

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