Stuffed Shells & Fried Ricotta Balls

Keeping this post quick and simple. Here is the recipe for awesome vegan jumbo stuffed shells and the first listing of my new favorite appetizer/side dish, my fried ricotta balls. Melissa thinks we should call them fried lasagna bites. I am open to opinions and suggestions for the name. Regardless of what we decide to call them, they are awesome and I could eat a million of them.

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The basis for both these recipes begin with homemade vegan ricotta. This is a pretty simple recipe and it comes out super creamy and flavorful.

Ingredients

3 garlic gloves

one 14 oz block extra firm tofu drained (no need to press)

1/4 nutritional yeast flakes

1/4 tsp all spice

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp cayenne powder

1 Tbs lemon juice

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 black pepper

 

Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend the shit out of it until smooth and creamy.

 

I use one full recipe for the fried balls so if you are making both you will need 2 batches. I recommend making them separately rather than doubling the numbers per ingredient.

 

Fried Ricotta Balls (Fried Lasagna Balls)

1 batch vegan ricotta

1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup bread crumbs

2 tbs corn meal

1 tsp corn starch

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp poultry seasoning

1/4 black pepper

1/4 tsp sea salt

 

Directions

Mix all ingredients expect the ricotta in a bowl. Scoop about 1 tbs of ricotta and roll into the flour mixture to coat evenly. Do this until all the ricotta has been balled. Set aside. Bring your favorite frying oil to a high heat, I like using sunflower oil. Make sure your oil is deep enough for balls to be completely covered. Oil is high enough when you drop some flour into it and it sizzles. Slowly drop your balls into the oil and fry for about 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel for a minute to catch extra oil. Serve with a side of marinara sauce for dipping.

 

 

Jumbo Stuffed Shells

1 Batch ricotta

1 onion diced

1/2 cup freshly chopped basil

1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley

1 box jumbo shells

 

Boil the pasta according to box directions. Be careful not to overcook as they will bake more later. You want them to be just al dente. Preheat over to 400. Sauté the onion in a skillet until soft. I use water rather than oil however you can use whatever you like to do this. Add the basil and parsley and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the ricotta and stir together until warm. Remove from heat. When the shells are boiled, remove and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Add 1 cup of marinara sauce to the bottom of a large casserole dish. When shells are cool enough to touch, start filling them with about 2 tablespoons of ricotta mixture and placing them into the dish. Once full, top shells with remaining 2 cups of marinara sauce. Cover with foil, poking holes to vent. Bake for 20 minutes.

 

Hope you enjoy!

-Chef Drew

Our Christmas Feast

The holidays are always a great time for cooking, and of course blogging. Everyone always goes out of their way to make great meals for all to enjoy. This was no exception in our house. I wanted to make great food for my wife and I to enjoy both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We had some awesome plant based food! To look for inspiration I turned to my obvious favorites, Plant Pure Nation and Forks Over Knives. One Christmas Eve we went for the French Dip sandwich (which was always one of my favorites as a meat eater) with some homemade sweet potato fries. This sandwich did not disappoint. Hearty, flavorful, delicious. Christmas Day we started with a little appetizer of Mushroom Tapenade on Polenta Squares and for dinner had Pumpkin Sage Pasta. Both were very yummy and filling. I think we really hit a home run with these dishes and just goes to show everyone, you can eat plant based and still make totally awesome holiday food that won’t have you feeling gross, overweight, and ashamed. Below are the recipes and pix of how I made them.

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French Dip Sandwich

Ingredients

Horseradish Aioli (My wife hates horseradish so I left that ingredient out and instead put a pinch of cayenne in for a slight heat and it came out great)

  • 1 cup tofu cashew mayonnaise (recipe to follow)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 green onions, sliced

Au Jus Dipping Sauce

  • 2 cups low sodium mushroom stock
  • 1 tbs cornstarch
  • 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Filling

  • 1 onion, sliced into half rings
  • 4 large portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 whole wheat sub rolls

Directions

  1. To make the aioli, blend the mayonnaise, garlic, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and green onions using a food processor. Set aside
  2. To make the au jus dipping sauce, whisk together the mushroom stock, cornstarch, balsamic vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the cornstarch is absorbed, turn the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste, Set aside.
  3. In a nonstick frying pan, saute the onion and mushrooms in 1/4 cup of the au jus dipping sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Toast the sub rolls and spread the aioli generously on each bun, then cover with the mushroom mixture. Serve with the warm dipping sauce on the side.

Tofu Cashew Mayonnaise

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews, boiled for about 10-15 minutes to soften
  • 7 ounces extra firm tofu
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp tahini
  • 4 tsp lemon juice
  •  1 1/2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbs dijon mustard
  • 2 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tsp agave nectar
  • 2 tbs water

Directions

  1. place all ingredients in a high powered blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. If you like yous a little thinner, add more water 1 tbs at a time until desired consistency is reached.

 

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Mushroom Tapenade on Polenta Squares

Ingredients

  • 1 onion diced
  • 10 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • one 6 ounce can pitted black olives, drained
  • 2 tbp capers, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh basil
  • 1 recipe polenta (recipe to follow)

Directions

  1. In a large skilelt over medium-high heat, saute the onion, mushrooms, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper in a little bit of water for 3-5 minutes, until softened stirring frequently. Add the wine and cook until absorbed.
  2. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a food processor. Add the olives, capers, and basil. Pulse until blended but still chunky.
  3. Cut the polenta into 2×2 inch squares and top with a spoonful of tapenade.

Polenta

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups non dairy unflavored milk
  • 1 1/3 cups polenta cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbs nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside
  2. Bring the water and milk to a slow simmer in a pot over medium heat
  3. slowly stir in the cornmeal about a 1/4 cup at a time. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring frequently and scrapping the bottom to avoid burning.
  4. The cornmeal is done cooking when it is smooth and thick. Stir in the remaining ingredients before removing from heat.
  5. Press the polenta into the prepared baking sheet until it is about 1 inch thick.
  6. Refrigerate until completely cooled.

 

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Pumpkin Sage Pasta

  • 8 ounces whole wheat pasta
  • 1 1/2 cup low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/3 tbs minced fresh sage
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • pinch of dried oregano
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Meanwhile combine remaining ingredients together in a saucepan and heat over low until thoroughly warm, about 5 minutes.
  2. Taste, adding more sage or pumpkin pie spice if desired, plus salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Cover and let sauce rest for 5-10 minutes, allowing the flavor to merge and sauce to thicken slightly.
  4. Toss cooked pasta with sauce.

 

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There you go, our holiday food. Try if you’d like and I hope you enjoy.

 

Bon Appetite

-Chef Drew