So I go to a birthday party for me held at my daughter’s house. My BW loves Italian food, and daughter Stephanie is a vegetarian, so I prepared a version of Stuffed Shells. I use Tofu with the cheese to boost the protein but you’d never know it, it tastes that good. We don’t have any pasta shells in the cupboard so we use Manicotti instead. It is a little harder to stuff, but delicious nonetheless.
After dinner, Stephie reveals the birthday cake and it is incredible. It looks like a pizza. Really. The crust is a yellow cake, with red “sauce”, “pepperoni”, sliced “green and yellow peppers” and white shredded “mozzarella “´cheese, all made from fondant. Stephie, a friend and daughter Victoria spend several hours making it; it cannot be more perfect if made by a professional baker.
We played electronic games like bowling which uses the TV screen. I think it was Wii or X-Box or something. The most fun I had was playing Bocce, the Italian court game using 4 balls per player plus a smaller “jack” ball. I liked it so much I’m planning to build a Bocce court in my yard. We put away the Manicotti and watched a movie: “REDS” with Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis, John Malkovitch and Helen Mirren. We all thought it was a great story.
When I was making the Manicotti, the tipster had me make extra so we could have some the next day. Even though it is meatless, we love it. Of course, sausage or chopped beef could be added to the sauce if you prefer, but once in awhile this dish is longed for. My other daughter hates the idea of Tofu, but loves this because you don’t notice any Tofu.
STUFFED PASTA SHELLS serves four
12 jumbo pasta shells
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1/3 cup shredded carrot
2 shallots (green onions) sliced thinly or minced onion
8 ounces fresh tofu, drained
½ cup ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded asiago, provolone or mozzarella cheese
1 egg white
A pinch of salt and pepper
A 16 ounce can of tomatoes, crushed
Half a teaspoon of fennel seeds, crushed
One teaspoon of minced garlic
One half of a six-ounce can of tomato paste
Two teaspoons each of basil and oregano
½ teaspoon of honey or granulated sugar
Grated Romano cheese
- Put the pasta on to boil. When done, rinse with cold water and drain. Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a small pan, cook the carrot and onion in a little water and a dash of olive oil for a couple of minutes, just until softened.
- Make the filling: Mash the tofu in a medium size mixing bowl. Stir in the carrot and onion, ricotta cheese, ½ cup of shredded cheese, egg white and the salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Make the sauce: In a medium saucepan combine the remaining ingredients, except Romano cheese. Bring to boiling, and then simmer ten minutes uncovered.
- Stuff each shell with one rounded tablespoon of the filling. Put the stuffed shells in an 8”x8” ungreased dish.
- Pour the sauce over the shells, cover the dish and bake 20-30 minutes until hot. Uncover and sprinkle remaining shredded cheese over shells, put back in oven a couple minutes to melt cheese.
- Remove from oven, sprinkle with Romano and serve.
Everybody likes this; and vegetarians get plenty of protein without an overabundance of fat. But regardless, stuffed shells are a toothsome delight, especially made this way. Enjoy.