Every once in a while I hit a jackpot with a meatless meal for my family of carnivores. We do love our veggies and carbs, but usually there is some kind of meat involved in our main meal of the day (ranging from cold cuts and bacon to fish, fowl and other fourlegged farm animals). While I try to keep things lean, I know we're rather carniverous und try to sneak in a dish or two a week that uses a different kind of protein.
This week it was stuffed pasta shells and boy, it was homerun time for Mama! Gooey, cheesy goodness with a tangy Vodka tomato sauce (a canned sauce doctored up) and a fresh crispy salad on the side that had both my men stuffing themselves silly with delight.
I didn't follow an exact recipe. I hardly ever. I'm one of those annoying people who can't follow a recipe to the letter if their life depended on it and happily wing it. Ever watched "Chopped" on the Food Network? That's me and my basket ...I mean, fridge! I secretly admire those who whip up weekly, even monthly meal plans, shop accordingly and stick to them, their freezers loaded with prepared meals but that's not how I roll. Nuh-uh.
About an hour before dinner I peek into my fridge and pantry, see what mood strikes me, and then I wing it.
I keep certain staples around, both in freezer and pantry, and that's pretty much it. All our produce (except for lettuce) comes from the local farmers market and on and off from our veggie bed in the backyard.
So, back to the stuffed pasta shells. Here's what I threw together:
1 container ricotta cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
pepper, salt, garlic to taste
Mix it up and stuff your pre-cooked pasta shells
Cover your pasta shells with your tomatoe sauce (I used a jar of Vodka Tomato Sauce but added a dash of heavy cream and some more spices) and top it off with grated parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Then bake the whole dish for 20-30 minutes in your oven at ...hmm, oh, about 380F.
For the salad I just tossed different baby greens from the garden, sliced cucumber, and shredded slaw and added fresh, blanched corn for a crispy mix with a simple vinaigrette made from apple cider vinegar, light olive oil, pepper, salt, garlic, a dash of sugar and a tiny dash of Maggi Sauce. You know, to taste.
It was delish!