Sunday, July 10, 2011

Pumpkin Stuffed Shells with Sage (Remix!)

I'm being a little lazy today. How long has it been since I've blogged? Months perhaps? I figured I'd get back into it with a super easy post today.

This is actually just going to be an update on one of the very
first recipes I ever blogged about. I said at the time I made it that I felt it was a fantastic recipe idea, but that if I made it again, I would definitely make quite a few changes to the original recipe. This is very very common, and if I look at some of my favorite recipes that I consider to be truly my own creation, most of them started this way. Check back in a few years and I'll probably have a million more changes to add to this recipe.

Most recently, my dad and sister were in town and we wanted to make a big hearty and delicious meal to eat together. We decided to make this one, and I kept track of the many changes from the original reci
pe. Here's what we did:

First make the vegetable marinara sauce. Gather and prepare your ingredients:
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 cup baby carrots, roughly chopped1/2 large red bell pepper, roughly chopped (or one small pepper)
1-15 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes w/ green chiles
1/2 can water
2 Tbsp. grade B maple syrup
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
Pinch garlic powder
Pinch onion powder
Pinch crushed red pepper1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
Pinch salt
Pinch black pepper
Saute onion, garlic, carrots and red bell pepper about 10 minutes until tender. Add the remaining ingredients except the soy milk and simmer for about 15 additional minutes. Let sauce cool to room temperature, then place in food processor. Process sauce until smooth, then stir in soy milk and season with salt and pepper.

Next gather your ingredients for the make the pumpkin filling:
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
1 15-oz. can pureed pumpkin
2 Tbsp. of the vegetable marinara saucePinch salt
Pinch black pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
Pinch nutmeg
1 Tbsp. white miso
1 box firm tofu (I like extra firm lite, but anything along those lines will do)

Saute onion and garlic with the sage until tender. Add onion mixture with all remaining ingredients except the tofu in a food processor and pulse until will combined, but not totally smooth. Transfer to a bowl and add the tofu, crumbling it well with your hands. Stir to combine everything well.

Cook about 20-25 large pasta shells in salted boiling water for
15 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water. Ladle all of the marinara sauce into a large baking dish, fill each shell with pumpkin mixture and place each shell into the bed of sauce. Bake shells uncovered in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice 10-15 cremini mushrooms and saute them in a bit of olive oil with another 2 Tbsp. or so of chopped fresh sage. Set aside. When the shells are cooked, remove from oven and spoon mushrooms and sage over the top. Turn the oven up to broil and cook the shells for about 5-10 more minutes under the broiler until the bits of pasta begin to get brown and crispy.

This dish gets a super-special flare when you garnish it with a few fried sage leaves. An amazing (and not that really guilty) pleasure, I'm completely obsessed with fried sage leaves. Just heat up a bit of oil and add the sage, a few whole leaves at a time. Let them sizzle and cook but not get brown, only a few seconds. Take them out of the oil and onto a paper towel. Sprinkle with a little salt while they are still hot.

Needless to say, this is a very elegant and pretty looking dish, perfect for guests. It is also filling, hearty and comforting while still being very healthy. The tangy vegetable sauce and the unique pumpkin and sage flavor is a welcome bit of variety from the usual stuffed shells or lasagna with red sauce. Give it a try!