DDD Ep. #112 – Vegan Spinach-Stuffed Eggplant Rollatini with Homemade Arrabiata Sauce

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Click the image above to watch the video.

This is a really easy, 5-minute pasta sauce.  It is fairly spicy so cut back on the crushed red pepper if you are sensitive to heat.  Canned tomatoes are not desirable – even BAD – (read why you should avoid canned tomatoes & seven other foods HERE) – but they are sometimes the only affordable (and super convenient) option. .

Fresh herbs will also improve this sauce measurably but – in a pinch –  they are absolutely not REQUIRED to make this sauce tasty.

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Five (5) Minute Arrabiata Sauce

INGREDIENTS

1 27 oz carton tomato sauce
Garlic to taste
1 tsp each of crushed red pepper, oregano, pepper & sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Fresh thyme (optional)
Fresh basil – chopped (optional)
Fresh parsley – chopped (optional)
Fresh oregano – chopped (optional)
1 TBS olive oil
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DIRECTIONS
Heat the olive oil. I sautéed maybe 10 tiny garlic cloves whole. If giant chunks of garlic offend you or yours, you might want to crush them a bit with the side of a knife or press them through a garlic press or chop them fine. Just do not burn the garlic and burning is easier – the smaller you chop the cloves. With whole cloves – I sautéed a minute before adding the spices. If you chopped the garlic – add it and the spices at once.After about a minute of both the garlic and all other spices sautéing – add the tomato sauce. Be careful as it will sputter and splatter you when it hits the hot oil.
A few minutes in – I used a slotted spoon to fish out the garlic cloves & put them through a garlic press but this is not totally necessary.Heat over med-low heat until ready to use. Add chopped fresh basil/parsley at the very end – if you are using fresh herbs.

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Eggplant is an odd thing.  Some of my favorite dishes are made of eggplant – most markedly my nearly guiltless Indian Baingan Bharta & one of the most popular recipes of this blog’s history, my Spicy Vegan Chinese Eggplant – both seen just below.

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But if it is cut into slices or cubes that are too large & then under-cooked – it can have an icky texture & an icky flavor.  Lots of people categorically reject it because the first time they tried it – it was yucky.  But it is so versatile & can take on so many flavors so well.  I love it & I feel certain I could convert more than a few haters – if I served them the right dish.

THIS dish might just be that dish – assuming they do not also hate spinach.   The eggplant is very subtle & melts in your mouth.  This could be customized a zillion ways.  There are no rules.  Just make a little mash of some flavors you like & roll’em up & bake them – and voila!  Yes – there are a few steps but none are difficult & the result is delightful.  A tad hard to photograph but really delicious.

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Oh!  I got this new little garlic press at Bed Bath & Beyond for (I think) under ten dollars & I am kind of in love with it.  There are to ways to go with this – sliced or minced (there is a second blade tucked into the base) & all you do is press the garlic through & it creates a little drawer of crushed garlic for you.  Se easy & easy to clean & no garlic fingers!

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Easy Eggplant Rollatini with Spinach 

Should feed 4

INGREDIENTS

2 medium eggplant – tops removed & sliced 1/4 inch thick (thick makes assembly harder)

1 lb fresh spinach (or 8 oz frozen or other spinach – thawed)

3-4  cups (28 0z or so) – marinara (your favorite brand or homemade or the one I  post below) or my 5-minute spicy arrabiata 

Handful vegan Parmesan

1/2 cup vegan ricotta

1/4 cup parsley – chopped

4 oz vegan mozzarella

S&P

Olive oil

More vegan mozzarella to melt on top – to taste

Parchment paper (if possible but not imperative)

Foil

Garnish: more cheese and/or parsley and/or basil

 

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the tops off the eggplant & try to cut them evenly 1/4 inch thick.  I used a mandolin.  Lay the slices on paper towels & sprinkle with salt.  Flip & salt the other side (lightly – so they won’t be overpowered by salt).  Salting the eggplant helps release excess moisture & can temper any bitterness.  Let them sit for about ten minutes.

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Steam the fresh spinach by simply boiling a tiny bit of water to a very large stock pot & adding the spinach.  Cover the pan.  It should wilt in less than a minute (this works to thaw frozen spinach, too, though it might take longer).  Strain into a colander & run cold water on it.  Squeeze out as much water as you can & chop the spinach.

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Put the spinach, parsley, & your Parmesan & ricotta & mozzarella cheese in a large bowl & blend.  Add some S&P.

 

Pat the eggplant slices dry & sprinkle with ground pepper.  Place them on a cooking sheet covered in parchment paper (or foil treated with cooking spray – because you do not want these guys sticking).  Bake about ten minutes.

Layer some sauce on the bottom of a casserole pan.  Spread about 2 TBS of the filling on each of the eggplant slices.  If you have extra – spread it around.  Carefully roll those guys up & place them in the pan, seam side down.

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Layer some more sauce on top & then sprinkle with mozzarella.  Cover tightly with foil & bake for 1 hour.  Remove from the oven & uncover & let rest a good 5-10 minutes before cutting in.  Serve with more cheese and/or parsley and/or basil and copious red wine.  See?  You like eggplant!

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DDD #84 – Vegan Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Click the image above to watch the video.

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!

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Vegan Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells 

(This makes enough to fill three pie dishes)

INGREDIENTS

1 lb dry fill-able pasta shells (any variety works)

Olive oil

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)

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

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.

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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.

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DDD #65 – Vegan “Tree of Life” Cabbage Cake or Stuffed Cabbage Tower

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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To watch the video, click the image above.

I had cabbage & I had a desire for some old school comfort food.  I was Googling around looking for inspiration & saw this thing of beauty by Proud Italian Cook:

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sauced-cab-sliced

Both my friend, Rose, and I were blown away & both swore to make it immediately.  And we both did.  I think she stuck with the original recipe but I had to make it vegan & make it before work – including going to the store to buy a different kind of cabbage – Savoy cabbage – so I could get that pretty lace effect – so I had quite a task ahead.  My cabbage, ultimately, was not quite as vascular as the one Proud Italian Cook used & my oven heats unevenly – so I did not get quite the forest effect they did & I browned one side.  No matter!  This was easy to make & is really delicious & quite the show stopper!

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I would have just used two bags of the Beyond Meat rather than add tofu but I only had one bag.  I used frozen tofu that I thawed & then squeezed the water out.  It gives the tofu a spongy-texture that resembles ground beef more than raw tofu does.  It also has the added benefit of removing lots of the moisture.

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I also added maitake mushrooms (seen above) and 2 grilled zucchini – simply because I had them.  You could fill your cake with whatever traditional filling you would use for cabbage rolls or use this recipe or tweak this recipe.  I used Rao’s sauce for ease & because it is the best jarred sauce on the market.  You can use your own favorite – homemade or from a jar.  Whatever you decide – I promise you will be delighted with this unexpected & regal reinvention of the humble stuffed cabbage roll.

Vegan “Tree of Life” Cabbage Cake (Stuffed Cabbage Tower)

Serves 4-6 (depending on appetites)

INGREDIENTS

1 large head of Savoy (or other green) cabbage

2+ TBS olive oil

9 oz vegan beef crumbles (or 18 oz or more and skip the tofu below)

1 lb tofu – frozen, thawed, water squeezed out & crumbled

1 onion – diced

4 garlic cloves – minced

1 celery stalk – chopped

1/2 to 1 lb mushrooms – chopped (optional)

1/4 cup parsley – chopped

1-3 tsp fresh thyme (or oregano) – less if you use dried

1 1/2 cups cooked rice (I used brown basmati)

S&P to taste

24 oz of your favorite red sauce

1 cup or so of Grated vegan Parmesan – optional

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Core the bottom of the cabbage (leaving it in tact) & place in a deep pot cored-side down.  Add 2-3 inches of water & bring to a boil – covered – for 5 minutes.  Plunge into cold water & when it is cool enough to handle – carefully peel the leaves away & place on paper towels to dry.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan & then cook the onions, celery and mushrooms (if using) until soft (my photos do not reflect the proper order & it doesn’t really matter).  Add the beef, tofu, and garlic, thyme, parsley rice & 1 cup marinara.  Blend well.  Season with S&P.

Grease a deep, round casserole or souffle-type dish & then arrange the prettiest and largest leaf on the bottom. Place another leaf on top of that and up the sides of the dish all around.  Layer in some beef mixture (maybe 1/2 inch) & top with another layer of cabbage.  Repeat until you reach the top or run out of filling.  Finish with cabbage on top making sure to tuck it in the dish all around.  Drizzle the top with olive oil and a sprinkling of about half your cheese (if you are using vegan or real cheese) all over.  The cheese can be eliminated completely with little impact on this recipe.

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Bake for about 40 minutes.  Let it rest then invert a serving plate over the casserole dish, then carefully flip it over.  Top with more warmed marinara & some of your cheese.  Cut into slices and serve with additional warmed marinara and more grated cheese.

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Vegan Cabbage Rolls Stuffed with Grilled Eggplant, Mushrooms & Spinach

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Everybody has had stuffed cabbage but, typically, it is stuffed with a mix of meat & rice.  This recipe uses neither – though you could add some – if you wanted to.  This recipe is more rustic & lighter.   No carbs.  No animal products.  Just loads of veggies & sauce!   I had grilled eggplant in the fridge – leftover from a night of Grilled & Baked Eggplant Pizza Towers with Fresh Mozzarella & Basil Chiffonade – seen below.

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If you have a grill pan or a grill where you can easily grill the eggplant – I recommend it because it adds a smokey char to the dish that is lovely – though not necessary.  If grilling the eggplant first sounds like a pain in the ass – blow it off & just cut your eggplant into small cubes

Grilled Eggplant

INGREDIENTS

1 eggplant – sliced into rounds

Olive oil or some kind of oil & vinegar salad dressing

DIRECTIONS

Dredge the eggplant through the olive oil or dressing & grill (either on a grill or in a grill pan) –  just to get some grill marks on them & cook out some moisture.  I did it on the grill & it took about 5-7 minutes – flipping the slices occasionally.  You can do this on your burners on the stove or in a grill pan or on a real grill – with or without oiling the slices.

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UPDATE – after eating this for lunch – at dinner – I wanted something more substantial.  So – I added a bag of Beyond Meat crumbles & some grated cheese to the top before I reheated these guys.  AMAZING!

Vegan Cabbage Rolls Stuffed with Grilled Eggplant, Mushrooms & Spinach

Serves 4 very well

INGREDIENTS

1 head cabbage (I used Napa but any kind will work

Olive oil

1 eggplant – either grilled as outlined above or not – and, either way, cubed

1/2 lb mushrooms – sliced or chopped

2 tomatoes – diced

1 onion – diced

2 stalks green garlic or 1-4 garlic cloves – chopped

2+ cups fresh spinach

1 TBS dry parsley

1 TBS dry oregano

Crushed red pepper (to taste)

S&P

2-3 cups pasta sauce (homemade or jarred)

Fresh basil as garnish

OPTION – vegan or fresh mozzarella baked on top of these might be nice.  I opted not to use any – in an effort to keep these very healthy – but I bet it would compliment this dish nicely.  Additionally – adding some faux beef crumbles on top or underneath the rolls makes this dish more substantial.

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Boil a large pot of water – deep enough for the head of cabbage.  Remove the cabbage core & drop the head into boiling water – whole.  With tongs – pluck out each leaf as it becomes tender & plunge into a bowl of ice water.

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Heat 1-2 TBS olive oil in a large saute pan.   Add the onions, mushrooms, tomatoes & eggplant.  Saute until the vegetables get tender.  Add garlic & spinach & stir until the spinach wilts.  Add the oregano, parsley, S&P and crushed red pepper to taste.  Remove from heat.

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Spread about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of a casserole pan.  Place a cabbage leaf on a kitchen towel & scoop a few TBS of filling into it & roll it up.  I did not really bother with the ends but if you are good at making closed ends – knock yourself out.  Place in the casserole pan – seam-side down.  Continue until all the filling is used up.  Season the rolls with S&P.

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Top with sauce – as much as suits your taste.  You might want t reserve some to add – warmed – to the finished rolls.  Bake for about 40 minutes.   Serve with additional warm sauce – if you like – and some fresh basil.

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Baked Stuffed Eight Ball Squash (or Zucchini) with Leftover Pasta (Vegetarian or Vegan)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Farm Fresh To You sent me three little 8-Ball squashes this week – and I had a boatload of leftover pasta and so – this dish was born.   I used the three eight ball squashes & a green & a yellow zucchini I had, too.  The kind of squash is not important but the eight ball squashes do make a cute presentation.   You can eat the flesh (and skin) of the eight ball squashes but I think this might be less pleasant if yours are very large.  Mine were pretty small & got very tender in the oven.

I did stuff the yellow zucchini but ran out of stuffing for the green one & could not be bothered to make more – so – I just filled it with sauce.  I used a teeny bit of real mozzarella on top & a really tiny bit of real Asiago in the filling but vegan cheeses would work just as well.

I used leftover pasta like this & the jarred sauce below.  You can use any type of pasta & sauce you prefer – even homemade ones.  You could add ground meat – like Beyond Meat Beefy Crumble to either the squash filling or your sauce – if you wanted to add protein to the dish.

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Baked Stuffed Eight Ball Squash (or Zucchini) with Leftover Pasta (Vegetarian or Vegan)

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

12 oz cooked pasta

4 eight ball squashes (or 4 zucchini)

2 TBS olive oil

16 oz pasta sauce (or less but up to 16 oz – depending on how much sauce you like on your pasta)

1-6 garlic cloves

1 TBS fresh oregano – chopped (or 1 tsp dry)

1/4 cup vegan mozzarella)

1/8 cup grated Asiago (or vegan Parmesan)

S&P

Garnish – chopped basil or parsley and maybe extra vegan cheese)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cook the pasta & drain.

Cut the tops off the eight ball squash & carefully scoop out the flesh & set it aside.  A melon-baller or grapefruit spoon might make that easier.  If using zucchini – slice in half the long way & scoop out the seeds & flesh and set it aside.

Take about 1 cup of the cooked pasta & chop it a bit.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the squash flesh & saute a minute or so.  Add the garlic & oregano & stir.  Add the CHOPPED pasta, 1/2 cup or so of pasta sauce stir.  Add Asiago or vegan Parmesan & stir.  Season with S&P & set aside.

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Treat a cooking pan with cooking spray.  Carefully stuff your peppers in the pan.  Top each with a little more sauce, some grated mozzarella & then with the squash tops themselves.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until the squash are tender & the cheese is warmed (and/or melted).  If using zucchini – do the same thing – but there will be no little squash hats for the zucchini boats.

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This next part is up to you.  You can either boil water & put the remaining pasta in it for about a minute, just before you are ready to serve – or warm as much pasta sauce as you think you need for 2 servings & stir the pasta directly into it to reheat it.   The advantage to heating the pasta & sauce separately is that you can better control how much sauce each serving gets – because some people like lots of sauce & others prefer less.  This is your call.

Whatever you decide – when the squash is ready – plate some pasta & sauce on two plates & place two baked squash on top of each.

Garnish with basil and/or parsley & grated cheese.

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Vegan Cabbage Cake (Stuffed Cabbage Tower)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I had cabbage & I had a desire for some old school comfort food.  I was Googling around looking for inspiration & saw this thing of beauty by Proud Italian Cook:

unmolded-cabbage-1

sauced-cab-sliced

Both my friend, Rose, and I were blown away & both swore to make it immediately.  And we both did.  I think she stuck with the original recipe but I had to make it vegan & make it before work – including going to the store to buy a different kind of cabbage – Savoy cabbage – so I could get that pretty lace effect – so I had quite a task ahead.  My cabbage, ultimately, was not quite as vascular as the one Proud Italian Cook used & my oven heats unevenly – so I did not get quite the forest effect they did & I browned one side.  No matter!  This was easy to make & is really delicious & quite the show stopper!

I used:

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I would have just used two bags of the Beyond Meat rather than add tofu but I only had one bag.  I used frozen tofu that I thawed & then squeezed the water out.  It gives the tofu a spongy-texture that resembles ground beef more than raw tofu does.  It also has the added benefit of removing lots of the moisture.

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I also added maitake mushrooms (seen above) and 2 grilled zucchini – simply because I had them.  You could fill your cake with whatever traditional filling you would use for cabbage rolls or use this recipe or tweak this recipe.  I used Rao’s sauce for ease & because it is the best jarred sauce on the market.  You can use your own favorite – homemade or from a jar.  Whatever you decide – I promise you will be delighted with this unexpected & regal reinvention of the humble stuffed cabbage roll.

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Vegan Cabbage Cake (Stuffed Cabbage Tower)

Serves 4-6 (depending on appetites)

INGREDIENTS

1 head of Savoy (or other green) cabbage

2+ TBS olive oil

9 oz vegan beef crumbles (or 18 oz or more and skip the tofu below)

1 lb tofu – frozen, thawed, water squeezed out & crumbled

1 onion – diced

4 garlic cloves – minced

1 celery stalk – chopped

2 zucchini – grilled & diced (optional – both the grilling of the zucchini & the zucchini themselves)

1/2 lb mushrooms – chopped (optional)

1/4 cup parsley – chopped

1-3 tsp fresh thyme (or oregano) – less if you use dried

1 1/2 cups cooked rice (I used brown) – or more if you eliminated the zucchini & mushrooms

S&P to taste

24 oz of your favorite red sauce

1 cup or so of Grated Parmesan (vegan – or not, if you are not vegan) – optional

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Core the bottom of the cabbage (leaving it in tact) & place in a deep pot cored-side down.  Add 2-3 inches of water & bring to a boil – covered – for 5 minutes.  Plunge into cold water & when it is cool enough to handle – carefully peel the leaves away & place on paper towels to dry.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan & then cook the onions, celery and mushrooms (if using) until soft (my photos do not reflect the proper order & it doesn’t really matter).  Add the beef, tofu, zucchini (if using) and garlic, thyme, parsley rice & 1 cup marinara.  Blend well.  Season with S&P.

Grease a deep, round casserole or souffle-type dish & then arrange the prettiest and largest leaf on the bottom. Place another leaf on top of that and up the sides of the dish all around.  Layer in some beef mixture (maybe 1/2 inch) & top with another layer of cabbage.  Repeat until you reach the top or run out of filling.  Finish with cabbage on top making sure to tuck it in the dish all around.  Drizzle the top with olive oil and a sprinkling of about half your cheese (if you are using vegan or real cheese) all over.  The cheese can be eliminated completely with little impact on this recipe.

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Bake for about 40 minutes.  Let it rest then invert a serving plate over the casserole dish, then carefully flip it over.  Top with more warmed marinara & some of your cheese.  Cut into slices and serve with additional warmed marinara and more grated cheese.

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Vegan Beef & Broccoli Stuffed Peppers

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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OK – so – I saw that vegan cheese above & decided to give it a shot.  I have yet to find a vegan cheese that tastes remotely like cheese and, I must confess, these individual slices do taste like a creamy cheese.  Best I have found – so far.  But – like every other vegan cheese I have experimented with – this shit DOES NOT melt.  I cooked four peppers – two with this cheese & two with real mozzarella.  I left them in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes.  I burned the mozzarella black but the fake cheese did not melt.  At all.

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See?  It is even burned at the edges but zero melting factor.  Tastes good but useless of you need a melted cheese.

Most stuffed peppers I have had are filled with some sort of meat & rice & they are often drowned in a red sauce.  I wanted these to be lighter so there is no carbohydrate in them & I served them clean – without a sauce – and they were very tasty.  I apologize – again – for less than stunning photos but the overcooking that resulted from my efforts to melt the unmeltable – but do not be thrown.  These are easy & yummy.

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bell-peppers-sex

Oh – and there is a little bell pepper tip for you!  And – I recommend Beyond Meat vegan products.  Best on the market!  Go to their site to find out where you can find it near you.

Vegan Beef & Broccoli Stuffed Peppers

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

4 bell peppers (male – if you can get them) – tops cut off & de-seeded

9 oz vegan beef crumbles

2 TBS olive oil

1/2 onion – diced

1 head broccoli – chopped fine

1 cup peas

1 cup corn

2 jalapenos – seeded & diced ( I left the seeds in for extra heat)

1/4 cup parsley – chopped

Cheese of your choice – vegan or otherwise (I use 1/2 vegan & half real mozzarella)

Garnish options – parsley, basil or micro arugula (I opted for micro arugula) or a warmed red sauce

DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan & saute the onion, broccoli, corn, peas, beef, jalapenos & parsley until the veggies are tender.

Put your peppers in a casserole or pie pan & stuff them with the mixture.

If you are using vegan cheese – you can top them with it before they go in the oven.  If using read cheese – put that on in the last 15 minutes of cooking – lest it burn.

Cook for 30-45 minutes – or until the peppers are cooked to your taste.

Serve with the garnish of your choice.

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Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells (Vegan – Vegetarian – Or Not)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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BathingandthesinglegirlCover

vromans back

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This is another VERY easy dish.  I used vegan sausage but real sausage would work, too.  I added a half cup of ricotta because I had it around but a vegan alternative would work – or it could just simply be omitted.  I used a homemade sauce I had left over but your favorite sauce, homemade or not, will do.  Even a white sauce would work – if that is what floats your boat.  Whatever your dietary fancies might be – this dish will please you – I promise!

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!

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Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells (Vegan – Vegetarian – Or Not)

Feeds two very well

INGREDIENTS

1/2 lb dry fill-able pasta shells (any variety works)

Olive oil

2 sausages (vegan or otherwise) – chopped

1/2 lb fresh spinach

4-10 garlic cloves (depending on the size & your passion for garlic) – coarsely chopped

10 oz can chopped tomatoes (I used Rotel)

1/2 cup ricotta (or vegan alternative) – optional

1/2 cup grated Parmesan (or vegan alternative)

1 pinch 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 1 cup but if you like wetter pastas – use more)

1 handful of grated mozzarella (or vegan alternative)

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

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.

If you are using real meat, you probably won’t need olive oil as the sausage will provide that fat.  If you are using vegan sausage – add 1-2 TBS of olive oil to a large saute pan.

Saute the sausage with spices (fennel, oregano & crushed red pepper) until it is cooked (cook thoroughly if using real meat – or heat it through, if using vegan meat).

Add the garlic & spinach & tomatoes.  Cook until the spinach is just wilted.

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Put the mix in a food processor & puree it.  Add the Parmesan & the ricotta (if using it).  The blending is not strictly necessary but it makes filling the pasta easier if the filling is mushy.  Season with salt & pepper & blend them in.

Put 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.  Put it in the oven & bake for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted & bubbly & the pasta is brown in spots.

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Broccoli & Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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These guys are really easy to throw together & even easier to pop in your mouth.  The only suggestion I have is that maybe you buy loose mushrooms rather than a package so you can pick out exclusively large ones.   They will shrink when you cook them so smaller mushrooms become really to small to stuff.  Other than that – the ingredients are forgiving.  And chopped veggies & any cheese – even vegan cheese – would work.  Use your imagination.  Here are two other variations – Mushrooms Stuffed Two Ways – with Garlic & Parmesan or Spinach & Gorgonzola.

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Broccoli & Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms

INGREDIENTS

20 large mushrooms

1 cup broccoli – chopped fine

5 scallions – diced

2 garlic cloves – minced

1/4 cup breadcrumbs or panko plus extra for sprinkling

1/4 cup grated Parmesan (or vegan alternative)

1/4 cup parsley – chopped – plus extra for garnish

Olive oil

S&P

Parchment paper

Cooking spray

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 40 degrees.

Line a cooking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove the stems from the mushrooms & place the caps stem-side DOWN on the parchment.  Cook at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  This will make them release excess moisture.

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Chop the stems up.  Heat 1-2 TBS olive oil over medium heat & add the chopped mushroom stems, broccoli, scallions, garlic & parsley.  Saute 5 minutes or so until the vegetables are tender.  Add S&P to taste.  Put this in a bowl & mix in the cheese.  I added about 1/4 – 1/2 cup water to make the moisture stick to itself better.

When the mushrooms are done, use a clean sheet of parchment paper & put as much stuffing into each cap as you can manage & put them on the cooking sheet.  Spray with cooking spray & sprinkle with extra breadcrumbs.  Let’m cool a bit & commence to shoving them in your pie hole.

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Mushrooms Stuffed Two Ways – with Garlic & Parmesan or Spinach & Gorgonzola

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Believe it or not, I have never made stuffed mushrooms before.  I love them but they always sorta seemed labor intensive.  They are NOT.  These guys are so easy & so delicious that I made them two nights in a row & ate every Goddamn one.  And you know what?  I am making them again tonight!  And maybe the next night.  Why not?  They are so yummy & not bad for you at all.  They use a small amount of cheese & some bread crumbs.  Big deal.

I am posting two different versions here.  For the garlic & Parmesan – I used an 8 oz package of mushrooms & ended up with a lot of extra filling so I am gonna suggest using closer to a pound of mushrooms fr that one.  The stuffing I made for the spinach & Gorgonzola was the perfect amount.  You can double or triple these recipes if you have more mouths to feed than just your own.  But whatever you do – MAKE some of these!  Stick a straw in a box of wine & go nuts!

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Garlic & Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms

INGREDIENTS

1 lb mushrooms

1 large shallot or small onion – diced

4 garlic cloves (or more to taste) – minced

1 red sweet mini pepper or 1/4 bell pepper – diced

Handful of fresh parsley – chopped

A few sprigs of thyme – stems removed

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

olive oil

S&P to taste

Panko or other bread crumbs

Cooking spray

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DIRECTIONS

Remove the stems from the mushrooms, being careful not to break the caps.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Chop the stems.  Heat a TBS or so of olive oil in a saute pan.  Saute the chopped mushroom stems with the pepper, shallot/onion & garlic until soft.

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In a large bowl, mix the bread crumbs, thyme & parsley.  Add the cooked mushroom mix & the Parmesan.  I added about 1/4 cup water to moisten the mixture so it would hold together.  Add S& P to taste.

Line the mushroom caps up, stem side DOWN, on a parchment paper-lined cooking sheet (or treat your pan with cooking spray.  Cook, upside down for ten minutes.  This will make the caps release some liquid.

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If using parchment paper, put a new piece on the cooking sheet.  If not, carefully wipe the moisture off the pan without burning yourself.

Stuff the mushrooms & place them on the cooking sheet spaced so they can all cook evenly.

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Spray them with a little cooking spray & sprinkle more bread crumbs or some panko.  Bake another 20 minutes or until the bread crumbs begin to brown.

Shove them into your pie hole & promise to try the spinach & Gorgonzola ones tomorrow.

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Mushrooms stuffed with Spinach & Gorgonzola

INGREDIENTS

8 mushrooms

4 garlic cloves – minced

1 cup fresh spinach – chopped

1 square inch cube of Gorgonzola

2 TBS panko (or other bread crumbs) plus extra for sprinkling

Olive oil

S&P to taste

Cooking Spray

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DIRECTIONS

Carefully remove the stems & chop them up.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a little olive oil in a pan & saute the garlic & spinach until the spinach is wilted.  Mix that up in a bowl with the Gorgonzola, panko & some S&P.

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Line the mushroom caps up, stem side DOWN, on a parchment paper-lined cooking sheet (or treat your pan with cooking spray.  Cook, upside down for ten minutes.  This will make the caps release some liquid.

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If using parchment paper, put a new piece on the cooking sheet.  If not, carefully wipe the moisture off the pan without burning yourself.

Stuff the mushrooms & place them on the cooking sheet spaced so they can all cook evenly.

Spray them with a little cooking spray & sprinkle more panko.  Bake another 20 minutes or until the bread crumbs begin to brown.

Eat them all.

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Egg and Cheese Stuffed Baked Potato Skins

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This recipe is really just a guide.  You could put any little combo of omelette ingredients you prefer in these.  I made one with 2 whole eggs & one with scrambled eggs & Velveeta (These potatoes were huge.  For smaller potatoes – just use one egg).  I overcooked the whole egg one & it came out like this – basically in an “over hard” or hard boiled state.

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Some people like their yolks cooked through.  For that – these were in the oven for about 25 minutes.  Reduce it to 15-18 minutes or so & you should get cooked whites & a runnier yolk.

Again – anything you might like in an omelette could be diced & added to these.  Hollandaise might be nice, too!

Egg and Cheese Stuffed Baked Potato Skins

Ingredients I used

Potatoes

Olive oil

Eggs

Velveeta

Grated cheddar & mozzarella mix

Parsley

Tomato

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Wash the potatoes & rub them with olive oil.  Pierce the deeply all over with a fork or knife.  Coat all over with salt.  Place them directly on the rack with a pan beneath to catch anything that might fall.   Depending on how big they are – they should be done in 45-60 minutes.

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Lower the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees.  Scoop out the interior of the potato.  Use the pan from the oven & create little support bowls out of foil to stabilize the potato boats.

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Place the boats on the foil supports.  Fill with whatever ingredients you are using.

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Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes for a softer yolk or up to 25 minutes for the egg to be cooked through.

Garnish as you will & swill these guys down – holding them in your hand like a hot dog – with a lesser champagne made tastier with the slightest addition of OJ.  Finish the champagne.  Nap.

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Egg Wonton Ravioli with Arugula & Ricotta

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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These are pretty easy to pull off, despite the fragility of the eggs.  You could do these ravioli with proper pasta dough but wonton wrappers really do work in a pinch.   I used small round ones.  I do not recommend that.  I’d go square & either leave them square or use a cookie cutter or rim of a glass to cut them round.  These round wrappers were pretty small & left little room for error – especially as the tight squeeze threatened to rupture the egg.

These could be made with any filling at all.  Anything.  I used an arugula & ricotta mix but spinach or goat cheese or sweet potato or whatever would work.  This recipe would make about 6-10 ravioli, depending how large you go.   While this recipe only shows a ravioli made with egg – my recommendation is that you only make one egg ravioli per person & make the rest just stuffed with whatever else you are using.   The egg adds a great creaminess but an egg in every ravioli might get overwhelming.  If the egg grosses you out – blow it off completely.  Or – maybe consider just making one of these per person – as an appetizer.

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Egg Wonton Ravioli with Arugula & Ricotta

(for two)

INGREDIENTS

Wonton skins (12-24 – depending on how large you make them)

2 eggs

2 cups arugula

4 garlic cloves

Olive oil

1/4 cup ricotta

1/2 cup Parmesan

S&P to taste

Parmesan, olive oil & parsley – as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Heat a TBS or two of olive oil in a pan.  Add the garlic for about 30 seconds & then the arugula for about another 30 seconds until wilted.  Puree the arugula with the ricotta & Parmesan in a food processor or chop the arugula & mix well with the cheeses in a bowl.   Add S&P to taste.

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Lay out some wonton skins.  Put a small amount of the arugula mix on the wontons.  Create a well in two of them to accommodate & secure the egg yolks.  Crack an egg & separate the yolks & whites – reserving the whites in a bowl.  Carefully place the yolks into the little wells you created.  Whisk the whites a bit & brush the edges of the wontons with it.  Top with another wonton, carefully squeezing the edges sealed while also trying to work out any excess air pockets.  My ravioli were so tight, I had to pinch them with my fingers & really manhandle the whole thing but, if you were listening, you got larger wontons & you have some room to spare.  Fork tines might work to seal the edges, in that case.

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Boil water & lower the heat so the boil isn’t so intense that it assaults (and breaks) your ravioli.  Boil about 3 minutes for the egg ones – three to four minutes for the others.  Carefully remove with a slotted spoon & place on plates – serving each person one of the eggy ravioli.  Top with a drizzle of olive oil, some grated Parmesan, some chopped parsley & some freshly ground pepper.  Serve immediately!  Use some nice bread to sop up any leftover cheesy egg mixture.  Rejoice!

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Spaghetti and Ricotta-Stuffed Roasted Eggplant Polpette (Meatballs) with Spicy Tomato Vodka Sauce

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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OK, admittedly, this one has a few steps but none are difficult & this dish is incredibly delicious.  In the interest of full disclosure – I must confess where my inspiration for this dish came from.  It came from a recipe in the Dallas News – that was accompanied by this picture below:

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I thought that was so pretty that I had to try it.  Their recipe used frozen meatballs & jarred vodka & pesto sauces.  I made the sauce from scratch.  They used fancy skewers that had black balls decorating the tops.  I used black olives – as they seemed to go very well with my eggplant polpette and I had no fancy skewers handy.  They also used angel hair pasta while I used whole wheat spaghetti.  In retrospect – angel hair is probably easier to wrap around skewers but I don’t imagine most of you will be attempting this presentation.  You should just go for this one:

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So – while you need to make the sauce (easy) and the eggplant mash (easy) and the ricotta stuffing (easy) – I am guessing you will find it all worthwhile – especially as this recipe makes about a dozen “meatballs” that were all nearly the size of a pool ball.  That would feed 4 easily – maybe even 6 – if you made more than a pound of pasta.  I opted to fry my polpette but they can also be baked (for 30 minutes or so at 350 – or until they are brown & just begin to turn crusty) if you are worried about calories (as I should be).

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Spaghetti and Ricotta-Stuffed Roasted Eggplant Polpette (Meatballs) with Spicy Tomato Vodka Sauce

INGREDIENTS

For the sauce

1 (28 oz) can of crushed tomatoes (or tomato sauce)

1 TBS olive oil

1 small onion – diced

4 cloves garlic – chopped

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (or to taste)

1/2 cup vodka

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup chopped parsley

S&P to taste

For the eggplant polpette

2 small eggplants

1 egg

4 cloves garlic – chopped

1/2 cup parsley – chopped

1/3 cup basil – chopped

1 cup grated Parmesan

2 cups (or so) breadcrumbs

Vegetable oil for frying (or bake them at 350 for about 25 minutes)

Filling

1 cup ricotta

1/3 cup grated mozzarella

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1 TBS parsley – chopped

S&P to taste

1 lb whole wheat spaghetti (or other pasta)

If making skewers – you need skewers & a few pitted black olives

Fresh basil and/or parsley – chopped – as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Halve the eggplants & roast them, cut side down, for about 20-25 minutes or until they soften & begin to wrinkle.  Remove from the oven & allow to cool a bit.

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For the sauce – heat the olive oil in a stock pot.  Cook the onions & crushed red pepper until the onions soften.  Add the garlic & saute about a minute.

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Add the vodka and cook for a minute or two to cook off the alcohol a bit.  Add the canned tomatoes & the parsley.

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Simmer for about fifteen minutes.  At this point – I used an immersion blender & smoothed the sauce a lot.  You can do this, too, or do it in a blender or even leave the sauce with more texture.  Stir in the heavy cream & allow to simmer on very low heat.

In a bowl, mix the ingredients for the ricotta filling.

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In a food processor or blender, blend everything for the polpette except the eggplant and breadcrumbs.  When the other ingredients are chopped finely, scoop out the eggplant flesh & add it to the food processor.  Pulse until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl & add as much of the breadcrumbs (maybe less – maybe more) as you need to get a consistency that can be made into balls.

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To make the stuffed polpette, put the bowls of eggplant & stuffing near each other by the sink.  Wet your hands and scoop out some eggplant

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Create a little nest indentation & add some filling.  Top with more eggplant & create a little “meatball.”

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Mine started like golf balls but ended up more like pool balls.  Do this until the eggplant is gone.  I ended up with extra filling left over.  You may or may not – depending on how much you fill your polpette.  Try to patch any spots you see with filler peeking out with more eggplant.  If the filling seeps out while you fry them – they just get a little harder to manage in the oil & you risk them sticking to the pan or falling apart.

Bake them at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until golden & beginning to crisp.  OR – heat about 1/2 inch of oil & shallow fry them until they are golden brown or darker – all over.  Scoop out with a slotted spoon & drain on a paper towel.  If you like, you can put them in a warm (200 degrees) oven to keep them hot.

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Cook the pasta according to directions.

You can warm the polpette more by dropping them into the hot vodka sauce a few minutes before serving.

Serve pasta topped with sauce & a few polpette & garnish with chopped fresh basil and/or parsley.

Or – if you are feeling ambitious, wrap a few strands of pasta around a few skewers & stand the skewer up in a “meatball.”  Place that skewered meatball on a little pool of sauce.  Cap your spaghetti & skewer tip with pitted black olives & garnish with basil & parsley.  Brag at the water cooler tomorrow!

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Beer-Batter Fried, Ricotta-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Sorry, folks!  I haven’t posted in a week because 1) my boyfriend Miles was in town and 2) my computer hard drive COMPLETELY crashed.  I knew it was coming so everything is backed up but I had to spend a few days researching my options & then buying a computer.  I bought on at Fry’s in Burbank.  NEVER BUY AT FRY’S.  The computer I bought was defective out of the box (it wouldn’t recognize the wireless mouse or keyboard) and after 45 minutes of USELESS tech support – I hung up on the guy & decided to return the computer.  Two options at this point: a) admit it is a defective computer & be turned away by Fry’s & referred to the manufacturer (whom I already contacted to no avail) or pretend I just changed my mind and eat a $225 restocking charge or buy another computer there that day.  It is a long story, but they totally shell gamed me into a cheaper computer but lied about what I was paying for exactly & TRICKED me into paying $279 for a three year warranty that they said they were giving me for free.  Grrr….

The new computer works – whew!  But – the bad news?  Windows 8!!!  I fucking hate it!  It makes me feel like I just woke up after a ten year nap & technology has left me completely behind.  Why do they fix things that aren’t broken?  Filing & viewing photos is even a huge pain in the ass & WTF does Microsoft have against thumbnails?   Ugh.

Anyway – the photos in this post are markedly sub-par & I apologize.   That was due to many of my usual thwarting realities but mainly that these are a rare item to find in a produce aisle & they are fragile & have a short shelf life – but uncooked & cooked.  Once I’d fried them – I wanted to EAT them.  I didn’t want to shoot them for 10 minutes & then eat cold & soggy fried zucchini flowers – so I popped off a few images & shoved them in my face.  My boy Miles surprised me by not only trying them but he gave them a thumbs up!  He even went back for more – and no cattle prod was required.

So – if you ever see these at a farmer’s market – definitely buy some!  I got them at the incredible Super King for $1.49 a bunch (with about 6-8 flowers per bunch).  Expect to pay more than that elsewhere.  Super King is a wonderland of produce priced well below market value.   If my recipe doesn’t appeal to you – Google others but definitely try these delicate & delicately flavored little, seasonal gems.  I even found sour grapes for sale.   The sign made me smile because it seems like they are selling pissy moods for .99 cents per pound.  But no.  They are selling actual sour grapes.

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I wish you could make money selling pissy moods because I have loads to spare & I could earn a fortune.

Also available at Super King is this amazing garlic paste.

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It has the texture of hummus & reeks of garlic & is insanely delicious.  I bought some to see if it was like the crack they hand out at Zankou Chicken.  In 1984, I moved to Los Angeles – into an apartment on Normandie south of Sunset.  In 1984, Zankou opened its first American restaurant at Sunset & Normandie.  I ate meat back then.  I ate Zankou.  I used that garlic paste mercilessly!  My boyfriend moved in a year or so later & became obsessed – insisting on it nearly every night.  I had, by then, resumed my obsession with another local restaurant (Torung Thai Restaurant) and their house noodle dish, #7 (now #36).  So – we each got take-out of our respective addictions & ate together but differently.  At any rate – this Super King garlic sauce seems to me to be exactly like the stuff from Zankou.  Make a note.

I used a bit of this garlic paste in my filling & will note that here but you needn’t use it for your fried blossoms to be infinitely edible!

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Beer-Batter Fried,Ricotta-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms 

INGREDIENTS

These portions are off a bit in that I made enough filling for about 25 blossoms but only filled maybe a dozen for frying.

As many zucchini blossoms as you care to fill.  12?  20?

1/4 cup cornstarch

3/4 cup flour

1 tsp salt

1 cup beer

lots of oil (vegetable?) for frying (I had my pan about 1 inch deep)

1/8 cup water

4 oz cream cheese

1/4 cup ricotta

2 TBS chopped parsley

1-2 chopped scallions

2 TBS garlic sauce (see story above) – OPTIONAL

1 zip lock baggy to create a pastry bag

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DIRECTIONS

Carefully, snip out the pistol with scissors or by pinching with your fingers.  The pistol is the nubby thing growing out of the center of the flowers.  Leave any long stems as they are.

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CAREFULLY rinse the blossoms & set them out to dry.  Torn flowers can still be used.  Do not despair!

Whisk the cornstarch, flour, salt & beer together.

Blend the cream cheese, ricotta, parsley, scallions, garlic sauce (if using) and 1/8 cup water.

Cut a small corner off of a zip lock baggy.  Put the cheese blend in it.

Squeeze a small quantity of cheese into the flowers.  Do not overfill.  Gently press the loose leaves into the filling to create a loose seal.

Heat the oil until it is hot but not boiling.  Reduce heat to medium-high or so.

Drag each blossom through the batter & fry them in batches.  Do not overfill your pan or they will all stick together.

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Turn & fry until they are golden all over.  Drain on paper towels & serve as soon as possible!

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Braised Calamari Stuffed with Shrimp & Baby Kale Over Whole Wheat Spaghetti

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Ok – I confess – I just could NOT get a decent shot of this dish.  This is becoming a frequent issue – caused, most likely, from my lack of continued inspiration photographically.  My lighting & plating options are limited & largely exhausted.   I need to start going to yard sales & junk stores & buy up some new cutie little dishes etc to maybe restore the fun of photographing the foods I prepare.

At any rate – this was a really satisfying dish to prepare.  I felt like an old Italian mamma in my kitchen, expertly filling squid with stuffing & braising them.  Braising, by the way, is defined on Wikipedia like this:

Braising (from the French “braiser”) is a combination cooking method using both moist and dry heat; typically the food is first seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with a variable amount of liquid, resulting in a particular flavor.

This dish takes a few steps but is well worth it.  If you use boxed pasta & jarred sauce – this dish is downright easy!

I found fresh squid at my store the other day, all cleaned & pristine looking, and I got two packages for under three dollars combined.  There were probably 20 little squid in there – each only about 3 inches long.

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I, personally, preferred the littler guys but you could do this with larger squid & have less work to do with the stuffing of them.

I marinated the squid in garlic, olive oil & lemon overnight – but this is unnecessary.  I did that, primarily, because I thought they had an odd smell & I wanted to get rid of that.  It wasn’t a smell like they had spoiled or were fishy but, rather, kind of a musky, bleachy scent which I found super gross.  The marinade cured that & these guys cooked up as mildly & inoffensively as any squid I’ve ever had.

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Also – I used baby kale because that is what I had.  You could use regular kale or spinach or broccoli or whatever in the stuffing for these.  Other recipes I looked at for this kind of thing suggested a course chop for the shrimp.  I opted to puree the whole lot & that resulted in a stuffing mix that could be inserted into the squid with a pastry bag or, as I used, a zip-lock bag with the corner cut off.  THIS was a lifesaver!  Trying to stuff these fuckers by hand – even with my green puree – was crazy-making so definitely have a zip-lock bag handy.

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Also – I only had these foiled sandwich toothpicks around.  If you use these, be sure to cut off the plastic fringe with kitchen scissors before cooking the calamari.

Also – I used my 5 Minute Arrabiata Sauce for these. You can do that, too, or use your own favorite red sauce, whether homemade or jarred.  I used whole wheat spaghetti from a box

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because I really like whole wheat pastas & was too lazy to make fresh pasta.  This, too, is open to your interpretation.  Make some pasta (I have posted lots of recipes for that) or simply boil up your favorite brand & shape of the boxed variety.

Lastly – definitely buy CLEANED squid.  I tried to clean squid once in the late eighties & was scarred emotionally by the experience.  It took until this week for me to ever attempt squid again.  So – if your grocer has squid in the case but it isn’t cleaned – pay whatever it takes to get them to clean them for you.  Trust.

When these little bad boys are cooked up, they are so tight & neat & resilient – you can slice them up with a knife & they do not fall apart.

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PRINT THIS RECIPE

Braised Calamari Stuffed with Shrimp & Baby Kale Over Whole Wheat Spaghetti

INGREDIENTS

1 lb pasta of your choice

15 -20 little 3″ squid or lesser quantity of larger ones

3/4 lb shrimp – peeled & deveined

6 garlic cloves

2 cups baby kale (or other vegetable like maybe spinach or broccoli or arugula)

3/4 cup panko (or other breadcrumbs)

2 eggs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1 TBS crushed red pepper

1 TBS dry oregano

6-7 fresh basil leaves

S&P to taste (1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper?)

Olive oil

1 tomato – diced (optional)

Parsley as garnish

Marinara or Arrabiata of your choice

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DIRECTIONS

I marinated my squid in a little olive oil, 10 cloves of crushed garlic, the juice of a lemon and some S&P overnight.  This is optional.

Prepare your red sauce or simmer your jarred sauce in a large saute pan.

For the stuffing – put any tentacles you might have from the squid into a food processor with the shrimp, garlic, kale, eggs, panko, cheese, crushed red pepper, oregano, basil and S&P & pulse to puree.  You might need to scrape the sides a few times.

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With either a pastry bag or a large zip-lock bag with one corner cut off – squeeze your puree into each of the squid.  Only fill about 2/3 of the way because squid shrinks when it cooks & it will shrink wrap your stuffing quickly & begin to squeeze it out.  Secure the open end by simply piercing through with a toothpick.  If using fancy tipped toothpicks – cut the fancy part off with kitchen scissors.  Pierce each squid once or twice in the fat part with the tip of a sharp knife to vent them as they cook.

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I had extra stuffing so I just made little “meatballs” from it.

Heat a frying pan & add 2 TBS olive oil.  I used my marinade to sear the squid & you can, too, but know that the garlic burns a bit.  When hot, place the calamari in there & sear them a bit all over, on high heat, until they begin to brown.  Remove from heat.  You can sear your “meatballs” in this process, too.

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When your red sauce is ready, place the seared calamari into that pan.  I added a little water to my sauce to thin it but that is just a matter of taste.  I also added 1 diced tomato.  Cook for about 15 minutes over low to medium-low heat without disturbing them.  Then turn them & cook another 15 minutes.  If you have extra stuffing “meatballs, add them to the pan for the second 15 minutes.

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Cook your pasta & serve it smothered in your red sauce & evenly distribute your stuffed squid.  Remove the toothpicks!  Garnish with chopped parsley & maybe extra crushed red pepper.

PRINT THIS RECIPE

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FOLLOW-UP to my Stuffed Deep Dish Pizza Pie

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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vromans front

vromans back

This is a follow-up post on my Stuffed Deep Dish Pizza Pie post.  While I initially felt my success with the deep dish pizza had two major flaws (a too thin crust & too wet contents) – let me show you what this beauty:

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became after a night in the fridge:

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The contents condensed measurably.  It went from a 2 1/2 inch deep pie to a one inch deep tart.    No longer too wet – it is moist & solid – is slices up like a dream now.  It is DELICIOUS at room temperature & even better reheated.  Look how pretty!

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So – I take back everything I said initially about this guy.  There is so much flavor packed into one dense little slice – with the addition of a simple salad – you would have a very elegant meal – whether for brunch, lunch or dinner.  So – go ahead & make one of these guys & you will have good eating on your hands for DAYS!!!!

ORIGINAL POST IS HERE.