This weekend is our annual ski trip in West Virginia with friends and family for our dad’s birthday. Sarah and I have been going on this ski trip since we were toddlers and without fail, no matter what the weather conditions, we find ourselves in Canaan Valley for this celebration. I admire that we have been able to keep up with this tradition over the years and even though many of the guests have changed, our core family members always attend this celebration. Another tradition that we follow for this weekend is that we always have a big family-style meal at the cabin with everyone on Saturday night. Lakeview Manor, the name of our family’s cabin, has a large dinner table that spans the length of the open kitchen. I love that we can all eat together and enjoy one another at this communal table.
Typically we have a large group visiting and it is much easier to share the responsibility of cooking rather than trying to eat out at a local restaurant. Sarah and I have started to take over the majority of the meal preparation and cooking for this celebratory weekend, mostly because we like to give our parents a break. Our folks typically like to do a lot of cooking for big groups for large ski weekends, but they are happy to give it up on this occasion.
Sarah and I often choose pasta dishes to prepare for the weekend because they appeal to most guests and they are appropriate for “feeding the masses.” My “go-to Dad’s ski weekend” dish is stuffed shells. They take a little more prep work due to the shell assembly, but I have found that they are easy to transport and they are always a crowd pleaser. Also, it is a dish that I have experience with and I am comfortable making. I tend to not make completely new to me recipes for large groups because I don’t have confidence that they will turn out.
I am going to go out on a bit of a limb here and try a recipe variation this year. I am choosing to add more vegetables to this dish and leave out the meat (traditionally I add cooked ground lean turkey to my shells). I am also going to use my frozen tomato sauce that I prepared over the summer for this dish! Please refer to our recipe, Tomato Sauce (without the fuss) on our blog!
Since I try to perform quick meal prep (30 minutes or less) for most week night dinners, it is a little tough for me to add another task like this one to my weeknight routine. This is why I try to split up the tasks for preparation over a couple of evenings and on the final night, I choose to set aside some of the prepared shells to have for our evening dinner to avoid making two separate meals on one weeknight. I feel that having a plan, especially when you are limited on your free time, makes extra tasks like weeknight cooking more achievable. Hopefully our family and friends enjoy this new plant-based stuffed shell recipe this year!
How does this recipe measure up to our newly established recipe guidelines?
- Posting more recipes that are plant based (check!) I omitted meat from this recipe and added more vegetables to create a plant-based recipe that is still filling. Don’t worry, there is still plenty of cheese in this recipe!
- We want to be better about utilizing locally-sourced ingredients in our recipes and utilizing local food markets, Co-Ops and farmers markets (check!) I used my Tomato Sauce (without the fuss) sauce for this recipe. This recipe is perfect for using preserved ingredients like freezer tomato sauce. The tomatoes used in the sauce were purchased at the Capitol Market in our hometown of Charleston, West Virginia.
- We plan on preparing dishes that serve at least four people (check!) This recipe states that it serves 8-10 people. It is perfect for a big group weekend getaway! I doubt there will be leftovers.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Ready In: 35 minutes
- 1 (12oz) box jumbo shells
- 1 (23oz) jar marinara sauce
- 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 head of broccoli, finely chopped
- 1-2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Pinch of pepper
- ½ cup fresh herbs (basil, parsley, oregano, thyme) finely chopped
- 1 (32oz) container part-skim ricotta cheese
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded, divided
- 1 cup low moisture – part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
- Optional: I added chopped portabella mushrooms and chopped fresh spinach that I cooked on the stovetop to this recipe. I usually add these ingredients to my shells because I like the taste and texture. I also mix part-skim ricotta cheese and 2% milk fat cottage cheese in my shells because I like the creaminess cottage cheese adds to the dish.
- Cook the shells until al-dente, according to package instructions, drain water and set aside.
- In a large baking dish pour marinara sauce.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place chopped up bell pepper, and broccoli on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl combine fresh herbs, ricotta cheese, ¼ cup parmesan cheese, ¼ cup mozzarella cheese and roasted vegetables. Stir until well combined.
- Assemble the shells by taking a large spoonful of filling and stuffing 1 shell at a time. Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish with the marinara sauce in it. Repeat with all the stuffed shells, forming 3-4 rows of shells.
- Sprinkle remaining parmesan and mozzarella cheese over the rows.
Preheat oven to 350. Bake shells for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese has melted and starts to turn golden-brown around the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before enjoying.
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