Stuffed Shells

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I am in love with this dish.  Simple, zesty, tender, and indulgent.  If you’re not keen on the idea of doing tofu ricotta, that’s fine.  Just sub in 450 grams of fresh ricotta.  As much as I deeply love ricotta, though, I must say that this tofu ricotta is rather exceptional; I wholeheartedly encourage you to give it a go.

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STUFFED SHELLS

I opted to do my version of a tofu ricotta instead of the traditional ricotta cheese to increase the protein and cut the dairy in this dish. The tofu ricotta can easily pass for the real thing, especially since just a touch of mozerella adds a slight “string factor” that fools almost anybody. Inspired by Heidi Swanson (http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/stuffed-shells-recipe.html).

Sauce:

  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 793 gram / 28-ounce can tomato puree
  • a scant teaspoon unrefined cane sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste

Shells:

  • 450 grams / 1 pound extra firm tofu, wrapped in a towel and drained for 20-30 minutes
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 120 grams / 4 ounces mozerella, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon Italian flat leaf parsley, minced (you could use a teaspoon of dried parsley instead)
  • a pinch of pepper
  • salt, to taste
  • 25-30 jumbo pasta shells

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.  Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed sauce pot, heat olive oil.  Add in garlic and briefly saute.  Pour in tomato puree and remaining ingredients.  Stir and let simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes.  Taste and add more salt or sugar, if necessary.  Remove sauce from heat and uncover, allowing it to cool slightly.

To make the tofu ricotta, use a fork to smash all of the tofu into a ricotta-like consistency.  Add in the mozerella, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and parsley.  Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary.  Add in the egg and set aside.

Cook the shells according to the package instructions, until al dente.  You don’t want to overcook them, or they will tear when you fill them.  Drain and rinse under cool water.

In a 13 x 9 inch pan, spread 1/3 of the sauce.  Stuff as many of the shells you can and lay them in the pan, seam side up.  Ladle the remainder of the sauce over the shells and cover with tinfoil.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Increase the heat to 375 F, and bake for 10 minutes more.

Serves 4

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