I’m no vegetarian. Most of the time, I make meat and potatoes for our family dinners. Casseroles make up half of my cooking repertoire. However, I recently concocted this vegetarian version of stuffed shells that is CHOCK full of nearly invisible vegetables. But better yet, it’s delicious! You should try it.
This version of the recipe serves 12-18 people. (I posted a smaller version that serves 2-4 people). It requires two 13 x 9 glass pans. OR if you want to freeze some then it will make three of those disposable aluminum square cake pans and then you can pull it out later.
Here’s what you need for the stuffing:
- 16 oz small curd cottage cheese
- 8 oz Ricotta cheese
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup cheddar cheese
- 2 stalks of celery
- 2 carrots
- 8 oz canned black beans
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tbsp celery salt seasoning
You also need these things:
- 1 box Jumbo Shells (about 36 total shells)
- 2 cups cheddar cheese
- 2 cans Veggie Lover’s spaghetti sauce (I prefer to use Hunt’s but you can use anything with extra veggies).
Here’s what you need to do:
- Boil the jumbo shells and stir every five minutes. (Set a timer because you will be busy). If you forget to stir then they will stick to the bottom and your shells will have gaping holes in them. (But they will still taste delicious…) After 20 minutes, drain shells and let them cool in your colander.
- Grate celery and carrots across a cheese grater. Use the bigger holes for the celery and the smaller holes for the carrots. (If you have a food processor thing then you can use that, I think. And then you can buy me one for Christmas. Wink, wink.)
- Melt cream cheese in the microwave (be sure to cover it with a paper towel because it will make a mess otherwise). In my microwave, I zap it for two minutes and then chop it up a little bit before zapping it again for a minute.
- Mix cream cheese with cottage, ricotta, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses to make stuffing mix. Then add the grated celery and carrots.
- Drain the beans and rinse. Add to cheese mix.
- Add eggs and celery salt.
- Stir stuffing mix until it’s even all the way through.
- Pour 1/3 of a can of Veggie Lover’s sauce into each pan.
- Heap each shell to overflowing with the mix. There will be plenty of stuffing so be generous. Place the shell on top of the sauce in the pan. (In the 13 x 9 inch pans you want to have about 18 stuffed shells each and in the three square cake pans you want to have about 12 shells each). Repeat this step until there are no more empty shells.
- After you’ve stuffed and arranged the shells, cover them with the remaining cheese mix and veggie sauce.
- If you’re planning to cook both 13 x 9 pans right away then go ahead and sprinkle it with the remaining cheddar cheese. Then bake at 350 for 45 minutes. BUT … if you’re making the freezable casseroles then cover it without the cheese and freeze it. You can bake it at 375 for an hour and a half straight out of the freezer. Sprinkle the cheese on top about twenty minutes before it’s done. If you choose to leave it out to thaw, then it only takes 35-40 minutes for the square pan to cook.
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