Monday, May 20th, 2013...9:06 pm

Stuffed Shells

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When I was in college, I had a vegetarian boyfriend for a while and he had the original Moosewood Cookbook. He taught me how to make vegetarian lasagna which I loved! We made it together frequently and I used variations of that recipe for years. However, once I decided on a vegan diet I started to try other ways to create the creamy goodness of ricotta cheese and eggs as a filling with all of the great vegetables in between. Tofu was a natural choice and mixed with garlic and fresh herbs, especially fresh basil, this filling makes for a delicious substitute. It is even better because it is not so heavy. It tastes a little pesto like if you use enough basil. Yum! So I will post about making  vegan lasagna too, but today, Stuffed Shells are on my mind since we made them last night for dinner. This is super easy to make if you have a food processor and if you don’t have one, it is still easy. We ate this with a mix of greens and my family could not eat them fast enough.

Stuffed Shells

1 box of giant pasta shells, cooked al dente.

4 cloves garlic

10-15 big leaves basil, washed and dried

2 pkg. or 2 pds. extra-firm tofu, pressed

juice from 1/2 lemon (about 4-5 tsp.)

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. grapeseed oil

1  c. soy cheese, (I used Daiya mozzarella)

4 cups red sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Start by putting the tofu blocks on top of each other and put a small pan or something kind of heavy on top of it to press the water out. This can sit while you  start the shells and filling. Add the shells to a pot of boiling water. Cook al dente and no longer. Cooking the shells less is better for this recipe because the pasta will turn too soft in the oven. Put the garlic in a food processor and pulse til minced. Add the basil and pulse til it too is chopped. Drain the water from the tofu and add it, lemon juice, salt, and oil to the processor and puree til smooth. This might take a little while. I stopped it a few times to break up some big chunks and also to scrape down the sides to keep the garlic and basil included. Scoop mixture into a bowl and stir in the cheese til well blended.  If you don’t have a food processor, you can mince the garlic and chop the basil and then add them to a bowl with mashed tofu. You can do this with a big fork or with your hands. Put 1/4 c. red sauce in a 9 x 13 glass pan and spread it around to coat the bottom. Once all the ingredients are well blended and smooth, spoon about 2 tbsp. into each shell and put the shell into the pan. Keep going til all the shells are filled. Pour the rest of the red sauce into the pan to surround and cover the shells. If they are not completely submerged in the sauce, don’t worry, they will cook fine, but these are tasty with a little extra sauce on them. Cover the pan with foil and place in the hot oven to cook for about 40 minutes. Take the foil off the top and cook for 10 more minutes. Let the pan cool for about 10 more minutes before eating. This is a big recipe so if you are not feeding a big group, or a few teenagers, cover the leftovers and enjoy them later because they stay great in the refrigerator for a few days.


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