Stuffed Shells with Chunky Tomato Sauce
There are still 2 1/2 weeks of Lent remaining, and call me crazy, but I'm getting just the tiniest bit tired of fish. Bet you are, too.
This hearty pasta dish should hit the (meat-free) spot just fine. Peas and fresh mint give the cheesy filling a bright spring flavor, and the fresh sauce comes together in about the time it takes you to boil the shells.
For a complete meal, pair the pasta with a lightly dressed green salad and a loaf of rustic Italian bread from Breadworks. To save time, assemble the dish the night before. I added more cheese to compensate for the peas (my kids aren't fans).
12 ounces large shell pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar (I substituted 1 teaspoon baking soda)
1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed and patted dry
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (I used 1/2 cup)
1 large egg white (I used an entire egg)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup grated part-skim mozzarella cheese (I used 1 cup)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions to just short of al dente (pasta will continue cooking in oven).
Heat oil in large saucepan on medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, oregano and pepper flakes and cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until about three-quarters of the liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes. Add vinegar and sugar and simmer, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the ricotta, peas, parmesan and egg white in a large bowl. Stir in 1/4 cup of the mint and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.
Spread about 3/4 cup of sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Stuff 24 pasta shells with about 1 rounded tablespoon of ricotta mixture each. Place in baking dish. Top with remaining sauce and mozzarella.
Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Rest 5 minutes and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon mint.
-- Adapted from "101 Recipes You Can't Live Without: The Prevention Cookbook" by Lori Powell (Rodale, 2012, $24.99)
Gretchen McKay: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1419 or on Twitter @gtmckay.