Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Rainy Saturday...

Thought I'd start the day being very productive and preparing Stuffed Shells for the upcoming busy weeks ahead of us. It's a great freezer dish (thanks to Giada...) and very yummy!

Turkey and Mushroom Stuffed Shells

1 box jumbo pasta shells (approximately 40 shells)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound ground turkey
4 ounces jarred roasted red bell peppers, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon of pimento paste
1 package of mushrooms, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
½ - 2/3 of (454 g) container ricotta cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
5 cups tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and partially cook until tender but still very firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 6 to 7 minutes. Drain pasta on a cookie sheet (to cool down faster).

Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat, and spray pan with olive oil as it is heating. Add ground turkey and brown, breaking it up to cook evenly. Drain fat from pan. Bringing turkey back to the pan, add pimento pepper, garlic and onions and cook until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes. Add roasted peppers and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl combine the cooled turkey mixture with the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, parsley, and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir to combine. (Optional: Run a hand blender through mixture for thinness to better stuff the shells).

Bring all ingredients to room temperature before stuffing the shells (if you want to freeze it).

To stuff the shells, cover the bottom of a baking dish with 1 cup of tomato sauce. Take a shell and stuff it with a large spoonful of turkey mixture, about 1 tablespoon. Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish. Continue filling the shells until the baking dish is full. Drizzle the remaining tomato sauce over the shells, top with the grated mozzarella. If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 day and up to 1 month.

To bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 60 minutes (20 minutes if shells are unfrozen).

Today the shells were served with a spinach salad, thinly sliced red onions, 1/4 cup of mandarin oranges and 1 tbsp of dried cranberries. I like to serve the salad with a light poppyseed dressing on the side so that the dressing can be placed on the salad using the fork prongs.

The rest of the day was rainy and gloomy so hubby and I decided to have "bar food" at home. Made a quick nacho dish (wholegrain Tostitos, diced red peppers, sprinkling of salsa and shredded cheddar cheese - served with some salsa and sour cream on the side). We also had some Buffalo Wings & Buffalo chicken breast strips - a quick seasoning bag that I always have on hand in the cupboard made this a quick dish to prepare.

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