She Stuffs Shells

Sans seashore yet still simply sumptuous.

One year, maybe 1976, a well-intentioned but badly misguided bunny hid carob eggs rather than chocolate ones all around the home of a sweet-toothed little girl. The very fact that I’m telling you this now, decades later, speaks to my bitter disappointment on that Easter morning. Maybe that’s at the root of why I’m not huge on deceptive food – you know, the old “and they’ll never know it was good for them, too” routine. I don’t much care for soy or tempeh disguised as meat – tofurkey or ‘fakin’ bacon. Brown bread that looks just like white bread? People are nuts .

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m absolutely in favor of substituting some or all unhealthy ingredients or methods for good ones, but if it works and tastes great, why hide it?.  I say tout your applesauce-laden brownies! Let your baked-not-fried flag fly! And today, we’re celebrating cauliflower, spinach and whole wheat pasta. Go ahead, tell them it’s good for them. It’s splendid for them.

Makes 2 8″ x 8″ dishes, one to serve 4 and one for the freezer.
Takes about an hour, less with your mad shell stuffing skills
Preheat oven to 350°.

1 box of jumbo past shells, whole wheat if possible (box had about 38 with 4 or five broken, I used 30)
1½ – 2 cups  cauliflower (about half of a large head), divided into large florets
1½ – 2 cups spinach, finely chopped
1 300g package of ricotta (mine was full fat)
2 eggs
¾ teaspoon nutmeg
680ml tomato sauce (mine was from a tin)
500g cheddar cheese, grated
parmesan cheese, uh lots, grated

Set a huge pot of water to boil. I put the metal colander right in it and the cauliflower florets in that so I can just lift it out when they’re tender. Then salt the still boiling water and cook the shells until not quite done, drain and toss with a tiny drizzle of oil so they wont clumpify.

Mash the cauliflower, add to it the ricotta, eggs and nutmeg and blend until smooth – my immersion blender did the trick in about a minute, biceps and a whisk would do too. Now add the cheddar (ya, it’s lots) spinach and a grind or two of pepper. Filling accompli.

Use about half the tomato sauce to cover the bottoms of both baking dishes. Stuff the shells and artfully dollop with remaining sauce and sprinkle with parmesan. Toss one in the oven and the other in the freezer, covered with foil.

Bake for half an hour (45 minutes for the frozen one) and then give ’em five minutes of broiler action for gooey-ness  and crispy edges.

stoopit good

Stop with the roses and chocolates already. I know it’s just so fabulous!

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6 Responses

  1. Oh delicious! I love the idea of putting cauliflower in.

    • I also loved your story about the carob. My mom always fed us carob when I was a kid, so I never minded it…but when I discovered chocolate it was a revelation! Unfortunately for my hips I’ve never been able to make myself go back to carob 🙂

      • Ha! Thanks PF. But now that I have a sugar loving daughter myself, I’m beginning to see the wisdom of Mum’s ways… And the real stuff is in the cupboard behind the rice and dried beans.

  2. I made this tonight for my daughters who thought it “was to die for”. i did not tell them what was in it until after a few bites because spinach is usually considered a swear word in our home. I was too tired to deal with the food processor so I blended with a potato masher. Also, I did not have ricotta so I used 1% cottage cheese. The result was a bit lumpier but delicious just the same. Thank you Michele and Ivy- we have added a new favourite to our menu. -A. Cope

    • I’m so glad that you tried it and liked it, and all the more so because you substituted ingredients and made it your own – and got some sp@#*ch into your girls! Thanks A!
      M & I

  3. The stuffed shells sound very good with the cauliflower added to the ricotta.

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