I love to make this satisfying pasta dish to serve at any festive occasion. Baby spring spinach adds substance and visual interest, offering up an enticing way to serve up a dose of leafy greens. The potato pulp, baked and then pureed, stands in beautifully for cheese. The lively color combination of this dish makes a lovely presentation.
Festive Stuffed Shells Recipe
Makes 5 to 6 servings (20 to 22 shells)
• 20 to 22 jumbo pasta shells
• 3 to 4 large russet potatoes, baked and cooled
• 1/4 cup unsweetened nondairy milk
• 1/2 cup diced yellow or sweet onion
• 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
• 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach, finely chopped
• 1-1/3 cups your favorite prepared vegan marinara sauce, plus more for serving
• Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the shells. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shells are almost cooked but still quite firm. Drain and let cool.
3. Meanwhile, slice each potato in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the pulp, using a teaspoon or grapefruit spoon. Measure out 3 cups of the potato pulp, making sure to pack it very tightly into the measuring cup. Put the 3 cups of the potato pulp in a high-performance blending appliance. Add the nondairy milk, onion, garlic, and salt. Process until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Fold the chopped baby spinach into the potato mixture.
4. Spread 1 cup of the marinara sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 12 inch casserole dish. Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the potato filling into each of the shells. Place each shell into the prepared casserole dish. Repeat until all shells are stuffed. Top each shell with 1 heaping teaspoon of the marinara sauce. Cover loosely and bake 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the sauce is bubbling. Uncover during the last 5 to 7 minutes. Cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with optional chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, if desired.
5. Serve extra sauce in a gravy boat or small bowl to pass around the table.
Laura Theodore is a 2014 TASTE award-winning television personality, radio host, vegan chef, cookbook author and recording artist. She is author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics: Vegan Twists on American Family Favorites and Jazzy Vegetarian: Lively Vegan Cuisine Made Easy and Delicious. Laura is the on-camera host, writer and co-producer of the popular cooking show, Jazzy Vegetarian and hosts the weekly podcast radio show, Jazzy Vegetarian Radio.