Monday, April 18, 2011

Vegetable Stuffed Shells

This is our favorite Meatless Monday meal so far. I was surprised because it contains four vegetables my children don't like. Chef Caprial was right when she wrote that kids will like this. I think finely dicing the vegetables helped blend the flavors into a very tasty combination.

Trim, finely dice, and saute these vegetables a few minutes until soft and tender.

After sauteing the vegetables, put them in a bowl. In same pan, saute the mushrooms. They can be sauteed with the vegetables but I chose to do it this way. 

After giving it a little thought, I decided the mushrooms were too big and finely chopped them before adding to the vegetable mixture. Next time, I'd probably cook them with the other vegetables.

When all the vegetables are mixed together and cooled slightly, add cheese. I choose lactose-free cottage cheese in place of ricotta and a little grated Parmesan cheese.

The shells were filled with the mixture and placed in a lightly oiled baking dish.

Cheese Topping
Freshly grated mozzarella and asiago cheeses were spread over the top and baked in place of the sherry sauce.

My son set the table, tossed and served the salad. The salad was dressed with a simple homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

Vegetable Stuffed Shells
Adapted from Cooking with Caprial, Vegetable Cannelloni with Sherry Sauce

Vegetable Cannelloni ingredients, with my changes
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped (I minced)
3 shallots, chopped (I minced)
1 medium onion, diced (I omitted)
1 cup sliced mushrooms (I finely diced)
About 1 tbsp bourbon (*optional, see method)
1 zucchini, finely diced
1 eggplant finely diced
2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and diced (I used 1, finely diced and sauteed with the vegetables)
1 ts chopped fresh oregano
1 ts chopped fresh basil
3/4 cup ricotta cheese (I used 2 cups lactose-free cottage cheese = 1 16 oz container)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I used 1/2 cup)
Salt and pepper to taste
8 cannelloni shells, cooked al dente (I used jumbo shells for the ease of stuffing)

My method for the vegetable filling: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook shells, al dente.

Wash and trim zucchini, pepper, and eggplant. Peel eggplant. Clean mushrooms with cloth or soft brush. Finely dice vegetables. Trim and mince garlic and shallots. Saute all vegetables in olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat a few minutes until soft and tender. (Or, do as above in illustrations.) Remove from pan and place in a bowl.

After vegetables cool slightly, blend in cottage cheese, or ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, oregano, and basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle a little olive oil over bottom of a baking dish. Stuff cooked shells, or cannelloni, and lay into dish. Spread a mix of freshly grated asiago and mozzarella cheese (or make sherry sauce instead, see below) over the top. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 5-10 minutes more until cheese is a little browned.

Sherry Sauce (I omitted and substituted grated Asiago and Mozzarella cheeses)
1 ts olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
1 cup dry sherry
2 cups heavy cream
Salt to taste and 1/2 ts cracked black pepper
If you use the Sherry Sauce . . . Lightly saute garlic and shallots in oil in a preheated pan, turn heat to high and add sherry and boil until only about 1/3 cup remains. Add cream and boil down to about 1 cup. Season with salt to taste and pepper.

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I didn't have my new camera when I made this, was shooting at night and not knowing about ISO, this was the best I could get the photos. I'm glad that daylight hours are getting longer, it'll make photographing dinner easier!