November 13, 2014
Souffled Pea Stuffed Pasta Shells ♥ When you want a little something before the bird
Yes, I am lazy or, I think I am. No one has ever called me that. They seem to think that I never stop moving.
OK, let's rephrase that. I am lazy with the things I do not like to do. You know, cleaning the bathroom, washing the floors, the windows and my least favorite, kitty litter.
Today I can add more one item to the list of "Things I have gotten lazy about."
I seriously am just not into it lately. Not happy, I think cooking might make it on the hate to do things list. Maybe I am in need of a break from the kitchen or maybe from all the kitchen antics? When I think about cooking dinner nowadays, my thoughts go to baked ham or baked ziti or even plain grilled cheese. The Nudge would never complain about those meals, he loves basic comfort foods and could eat them every night of the week.
Want to know exactly how tired I am of cooking? I agree with him about basic comfort foods, am tired of trying new challenging recipes and I actually made a tuna casserole for dinner last night. You have to read the story as to how it ended up in my oven and you will see how lazy I think I really am.
I have recently been involved in a recipe contest sponsored by Libby's Fruits & Vegetables. Took about 2 full weeks of my time. The first day I started the posting process, I read all the requirements and realized the dishes I had created (and which took two weeks) were all wrong and should never have been created. I had no choice but to run to the store and purchase more ingredients and start all over, making dishes according to the specifications Libby's required.
Last Sunday was the deadline, and come Monday morning, I saw the four previous posts sitting in my archives, pictures and recipes, all complete. Yes, I know it is my fault I wasted so much time but what was more crazy was that I started all over again.
Now you tell me, who can think about making dinner with all that contest cooking going on? I had stacks of containers of uncooked leftover ingredients in my fridge. Not something I wanted reminding me of my stupidity every time I opened that door. Then it dawned on me.....make a tuna noodle casserole. Yes, with peas and carrots and a can of tuna along with pre-grated cheeses and buttered bread crumbs.
When I got done assembling and baking, there was not one pea or carrot to be seen. I was done. I was happy and we were full.
But you might ask, where's the tuna casserole? You are right, there is no tuna casserole in this post. So what's up with that? You waste my time because you wasted your time?
I would never make you read a post without a prize attached.
Today, I am posting one of my non-contest worthy creations because it's all ready baked, photographed and eaten. Oh, and by the way, one of "the best lite stuffed shells in 30 minutes" dinner that just might change your mind about canned peas. It did mine.
Here we go..............
Processed vegetables can be boring, sometimes tasteless and soft. Not anything every person who has to make dinner under the gun didn't already know. They are, however, a must have essential item in your pantry but simply opening a can and plopping them on your table is not the best way to get kids to eat essential vegetables.
If you have been reading my blog last week you have seen what creative dishes the Recipe Redux members created in 10 minutes using pantry stable vegetables. I am in awe at their creativity and let's not forget, these gals are professional nutritionist, dietitians and nurses so they know their veggies.
Those stuffed shells at the beginning of this post? Stuffed with pea souffle. Yup, peas out of a bag.
The two of us ate 24 shells in two days, they were that lite and that good.
I am not done, there's more.
The filling for these shells can be ready before the pasta is even cooked. There are a few tricks to this dish starting with a food processor, a container of pre-grated cheese, a jar of your favorite marinara sauce and of course, a pouch of Libby's peas. Just the tricks a lazy cook needs.
While the shells bake in the oven, the table gets set and the hands get washed.
In an Italian family, it is tradition to serve pasta as an appetizer to the main meal, especially during holiday feasts, but it seems everyone gets so full that no one enjoys the main event.
These shells are light and healthy, reheat extremely well and have a built in portion control option.
These can be made ahead, covered and stored the night before to be baked as soon as everyone has their coat off and is ready for dinner. The stuffing mix ends up as a souffle, light and airy but full of flavor. I almost ate the whole first test, they were that good. And I am a fussy pasta perfectionist.
From the processor to the table, 10 minutes to prep 10 ingredients, all found right in your neighborhood grocery store. Unattended time is only 25 minutes.
One batch makes 24 shells, and with the holidays soon upon us, they will disappear. If you should have any leftover and no one has dibs, they can be frozen and microwaved for lunch.
Souffled Pea Stuffed Shells
makes 24 large shells
* 24 jumbo pasta shells
* 1 cup canned peas, drained, liquid reserved
* 2 small garlic cloves
* 1 cup 4% large curd cottage cheese
* 1 extra-large egg
* 1 cup grated Locatelli cheese
* 1 teaspoon lemon juice
* 15 mint leaves, divided
* salt and pepper to taste
4 cups prepared favorite marinara sauce, reserving 1 cup for presentation.
Preheat the oven to 375°
1. Puree peas, cottage cheese, garlic, egg, half the mint leaves, and half the grated cheese. Add the lemon juice and adjust seasoning.
2. Cook the pasta according to package directions and when done, place in a large bowl of ice water.
3. Prepare a large baking dish and fill with the marinara sauce.
4. Stuff one tablespoon of filling into each shell and carefully lay them snug together over the sauce.
5. Mince the remaining mint and set aside.
6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until sauce is bubbling. Remove and garnish with minced mint, grated cheese and a dollop of sauce.
These make an excellent first course to a holiday meal or a lunch for work.
We ate them for dinner one night (with a salad) and then for lunch the next day.
We could not stop eating them, they were that light. This is one recipe I will be making many times and share with my Dad.