All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018
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This is another very easy dish.
Vegan sausage is usually pretty nasty but I keep hoping I can find a way to doctor it up & make it edible and, finally, with this dish – I SUCCEEDED! The secret was a pinch of fennel & a shit ton of crushed red pepper. The filling in these shells was so delicious – I kept eating it directly out of the pan. A few simple ingredients, a half hour in the oven – and you are neck deep in heaven. Trust!
Vegan Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells
(This makes enough to fill three pie dishes)
1 lb dry fill-able pasta shells (any variety works)
4 vegan sausages – chopped
1 lb fresh spinach (or kale or arugula or other greens of your choice)
4-10 garlic cloves (depending on the size & your passion for garlic) – coarsely chopped
2 (10 to 15 oz) cans chopped tomatoes (I used Rotel & fire roasted tomatoes)
1 lb vegan ricotta
8 oz or more vegan mozzarella
1/2 cup grated vegan Parmesan
1 tsp dry fennel
1 tsp dry oregano
1 TBS crushed red pepper (I used closer to 3 TBS but I love spice)
1-2 cups red pasta sauce (I used some spicy Rao’s & spicy Guy Fiery sauces but homemade would be even better)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cook the pasta until al dente – or maybe a minute less than the package suggests. Drain & run under cool water.
Heat 1-2 TBS of olive oil in a large saute pan.
Saute the sausage with spices (fennel, oregano & crushed red pepper) until it is begins to brown.
Add the garlic & spinach & tomatoes. Cook until the spinach is just wilted. Season with salt & pepper & blend them in.
Put the mix in a food processor & puree it. Add about 1/3 of your mozzarella & the ricotta. The blending is not strictly necessary but it makes filling the pasta easier if the filling is mushy.
Put some of your pasta sauce on the bottom of a casserole or pie dish. Fill the pasta shells & place them on top of the sauce. Sprinkle with whatever amount of mozzarella appeals to you and additional sauce, if you like a wetter dish. Maybe sprinkle some vegan Parmesan on there, too. Put it in the oven & bake for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted & bubbly & the pasta is brown in spots. If you want to freeze some – wrap the dish in foil & freeze – UNCOOKED.