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Vegan Stuffed Shells #SundaySupper

It’s been way too long since I’ve been able to or had the head to join the Sunday Supper Movement. This week’s theme is Cheesy Dinner Ideas brought to us by Em. In this new(ish) wave of healthier eating, there are more and more vegans and vegetarians following our blogs. While this doesn’t follow the strict definition of cheesy, these stuffed shells are close enough – and delicious enough – for my vegan.

Learning to adjust one’s culinary brain when one of your children announces they’re a vegan – or even a vegetarian – is not easy. So now there was a vegan AND a vegetarian AND a dyed in the wool carnivore. How is a girl to cope?

I’ve learned to start with a base – in this case the marinara sauce and the cooked shells – and then split into two meals. In this case, only the stuffing for the shells. Side by side, the Dear One was hard pressed to know which was which. Taste? Not too bad. I think the seller for me with this recipe was the tofu being ground up. I am not a big tofu fan, but bring ground up and mixed with the rest of the yummy ingredients was a game changer.

There had been a love hate relationship – mostly hate – with Nutritional Yeast. I have to admit that this hate formed without ever tasting it. It turns out it’s full of B vitamins, folic acid, selenium, zinc and protein. Hmmmm …. well, it’s good for you. But the name is so unappealing. I tried it sprinkled on popcorn and I was hooked. I sprinkle it on eggs, have used it in a vegan form of pesto, popcorn … if you haven’t tried, do.

Scroll to the bottom of my post and stop by the other blogs in this week’s Sunday Supper Movement!

  • 1 t vegetable oil
  • 6  garlic cloves , minced
  • 8 oz. baby spinach
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 vegan egg
  • 2 t Nutritional Yeast
  • 12 oz. Onederful® Tofu, drained
  • cooking spray
  • 12 Jumbo Pasta Shells, cooked
  • 16 oz. Marinara Sauce
  • Canola oil (as needed)

NOTE: There was no opposition to an egg, so I used a fresh egg. I have used Follow Your Heart vegan eggs with no trouble.

Pre-Heat over to 400

Heat a sauce pan over a medium flame and add 1 teaspoon of oil. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the spinach and half the salt. Cook until the spinach is wilted.

Place the sautéed spinach mixture in a strainer so the extra liquid can drip out. Set aside,

Add the tofu to a food processor and pulse several time to break the tofu down to small crumbles.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the crumbled tofu, drained spinach, egg, nutritional yeast and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Lightly spray a baking dish with the cooking spray. Pour half the marinara sauce on the bottom.

Fill the shells with the stuffing mixture. Add shells to the baking dish.

Pour the rest of the marinara sauce over the shells.

Bake uncovered for 8 -10 minutes, uncovered.

Serve immediately.

Cheesy Dinner Ideas

Cheesy Appetizers and Sides

Cheesy Main Courses

Sunday Supper MovementThe Sunday Supper Movement is committed to bringing our readers delicious recipes that encourage them to gather and eat together around the family table. Search for your favorite ingredients on our Sunday Supper website. Also check out the Sunday Supper Pinterest boards for plenty more ideas and inspiration.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.


Spinach Lasagna Rolls


So, there’s this girl I know. Well, not a girl, a young lady really. But when I was her age … and yes, I was her age once, I wasn’t born THIS OLD, ya know … being called a young lady made be visibly blanch. She’s becoming very dear to me. In my family, cooking for and feeding people is a way to show (some) love.

There’s a little glitch in showing this Italian, kitchen-esque type of love to this otherwise lovely girl. She’s a vegetarian. Nothing with a face. Nothing with a soul. Hmmm … tricky. Never gave much thought to strictly vegetarian dishes, and fortunately, she’s not vegan, but tricky going for me just the same.

Oh! We need to add another level of cooking angst here … her sister is NOT a vegetarian (but that’s a whole ‘nuther magilla which we will get to in recipes and days to come) and, of course, there’s the carnivore. How do you feed all these different needs with one dish and keeping your hair on your head and not clenched between your fingers having just been torn from your head?

Must be yummy. Must have no faces or soul. Must be hearty. I can do this. I know I can.

I came across this Giada de Laurentiis recipe from Everyday Italian for Spinach Lasagna Rolls. The original recipe calls for prosciutto (oh, you don’t know what you’re missing) and a bechamel sauce. I opted to leave out the prosciutto and swap the bechamel for tomato sauce. Salad. Garlic bread. Dinner is ready.

And while it has no faces, this dish certainly has soul!

  • 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
  • 1 C plus 2 T grated Parmesan
  • 1 C shredded mozzarella (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 3/4 t salt, plus more for salting water
  • 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 T olive oil
  • 12 uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 2 C marinara sauce

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Whisk the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan, mozzarella, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and add a tablespoon of oil.

NOTE: I normally don’t add oil when I’m cooking pasta, but with the lasagna noodles it seems to help keep them from sticking together and becoming a massive clump.

Cook the pasta until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Arrange the pasta in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.

Butter or spray with cook spray a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Pour about 1 cup of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish and spread to cover. Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread a large spoonful (about 3 tablespoons worth) of ricotta mixture evenly over each noodle.

Starting at 1 end, roll each noodle like a jelly roll.

Lay the lasagna rolls seam side down, on top of the marinara sauce in the dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture. Spoon the remaining 1 cup of marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls.

Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan over the lasagna rolls. Cover with foil. Bake until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes.

NOTE: You can gild the lily a bit here and add a cup of shredded mozzarella on top of the marinara. If you choose to do this, after 20 minutes, uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes.



Mussels in White Wine and Garlic


“It’s a beautiful day,” says he.

“I know!” I respond, “FINALLY!”

“We really should get out and about.”

“Oh, yes, please! That would be great.”

It’s one of the first truly nice days of spring. The sun is shining, there’s a light breeze, it’s warm(ish). I want to get out and feel the sun on my face. A nice walk in Acadia National Park. Oh, Sand Beach, I haven’t been there yet. My head was filled with places on Mount Desert Island I wanted to explore.

The Dear One, however, had other ideas in mind.

See, there’s a tree. A tree he cut down. A tree destined to be cut and split and stacked and dried for the wood stove for the winter.

THE WINTER? Seriously, Dude? It’s April! I’ve barely had time to recuperate from this past winter much less think about NEXT winter.

Well, you see, he explains, it has to be cut and split and stacked now, and covered in plastic so that it dries out to be ready for next winter.

Now, back to that tree … it’s down a ‘slight’ hill, on the opposite side of the house from where it needs to be stacked, and looked MUCH smaller standing upright.

“Okay, I’ll take the big part of the trunk. You take the branches. Whatever is too small to cut for the wood stove, throw on the wood pile.”

This is when I realized that the man of my dreams is completely OFF.HIS.ROCKER! Has he not seen these delicate, little hands? Has he not seen me struggle to pick up heavy grocery bags? Most importantly, has he NOT SEEN MY TIARA!? A princess, I tell you! A City princess, at that, carrying a tree? Stacking wood? Surely you jest.

Jesting he was not. But I princessed up, rolled up my sleeves and heave ho’d. I threw branches and stems on the burn pile (wait, ce qui es une BURN PILE … oh, I am so new to this planet!), carried big branches up to some God awful contraption so it could be cut into logs, and stacked up wood that Mr. Lumberjack split.

I smelled. I dropped a birch branch on my toe. I dropped a birch log on my ankle. I was covered in sawdust and dirt and YUCK. Every single inch of my body hurt … except, perhaps, a 1/4″ spot on my left ear.

AND I WAS STARVING. I needed a HOT shower and a hot, quickly made dinner.

I sent Simon Legree the Dear One off to the market to pick up dinner … mussels, garlic, parsley … while I stood in a scalding hot shower trying to wash away the memory of the day.

In the time it took to boil a pot of water, shallots were sliced, garlic was minced, parsley was chopped. When the pasta was dropped into boiling water, the shallots, garlic and white wine simmer, after about 5 minutes the mussels were added, another short 5 minutes, added some parsley and butter. Everything done at the same time. 15 minutes from start to finish.

A few slices of toasted Italian bread, glasses of fabulous red wine, and I was a happy, though still sore, camper.

It doesn’t really get easier than this dish. Next time I may add some arugula in, or perhaps halved grape tomatoes, the possibilities are endless.

  • 2 C dry white wine
  • 4 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 4 pounds live mussels
  • 1/3 C mixed fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, chervil, or basil, chopped
  • 6 T butter, cut into pieces

Rinse and scrub mussels under cold running water. Using your fingers or a paring knife, remove beards (strings that hang from the mussels’ shells), and discard.

In a large stockpot set over medium heat, combine wine, shallots, garlic, and salt. Simmer 5 minutes. Add mussels. Cover, and increase heat to high. Cook until all mussels are open, about 5 minutes. Stir in herbs and butter. Remove from heat. Divide mussels and broth among four bowls. Serve immediately.

NOTE: We were STARVING so I threw this over pasta. If you serve the mussels without pasta toast some bread, rub it with garlic for dipping.


Fresh Pomodoro Pasta, White Beans & Olives

Sorry I have been away for so long! I fried the logic board on my computer (I don’t even know what that means except $1,000) and am completely out of sorts! I am hobbling together things for the moment and just happened to find these photos on my memory stick!


Seems a bunch of my favorite people are vegetarians. To a lifelong carnivore this is truly a travesty.

Well, not really. They are, perhaps, just perhaps, slightly healthier than I. Being a vegetarian does not automatically make you ‘healthy’. At least that’s what my meat sodded brain likes to think!

I have spoken to a number of vegetarians and always ask why. Why have you made the choice you have. I don’t always agree with their answers. Except one … I just can’t eat anything with a face.

I suppose I can understand this. Living in a city and buying everything already prepared and clean and wrapped in plastic you don’t necessarily think about from whence it came.

But now, in talking about chickens and ducks and sheep … the thought process changes. Okay, chickens, but only for laying, not eating! And ducks, well, just to keep the chickens company, certainly NOT to eat! Well, what do you think about sheep. Well, sure, sheep would be great … for WOOL … NOT.TO.EAT! Yes, yes, I know, I know, all the sentimental women in my life.

So, I suppose I do understand more about being a vegetarian than I originally thought. It’s just hard to come up with dishes that will satisfy the vegetarians, semi-vegetarians (don’t ask) and flesh eaters all at once!

This pasta dish really works for everyone. Great ingredients, no faces, filling, fresh, lots of flavors and textures … AND when into two bowls, some poached or grilled salmon mixed in for the flesh eaters.

  • 8 oz whole-wheat pasta shells, tubetti, ziti or rigatoni
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 15 oz cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ripe tomato, diced (about 3 cups)
  • ¼ C oil-cured black olives, pitted (see Tip) and chopped
  • ½ C sliced fresh basil
  • ¼ t kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ C grated Pecorino Romano cheese


Put a large pot of water on to boil. Cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain.


Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add beans and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until the beans are just heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.

Adding Tomatos and olives

Remove from the heat. Add tomatoes, olives, basil, salt and pepper. Stir gently to combine.

To serve, divide the pasta among 4 plates and top with bean/tomato mixture and grated cheese.


Steamed Clams & Tomatoes

STeamed Clams & Tomatoes

I have been in the car for a lifetime. Okay, not quite a litetime, perhaps it was just a month. Okay, fine, not a month. SIGH! It had to be a week. Really. Those 6 1/2 hours in the car battling Friday traffic to the Cape seemed to have lasted at least a week!


My tushy is SORE!


I am STARVING! Yes, I know, when am I ever NOT starving.

A quick stop at the supermarket and then I can stretch (unpack the car), have a glass of wine (put the groceries away), and do what helps me unwind best (we’re hungry, what is there to eat) … COOK!

But it’s late and the sun is setting. I really want to sit with my love and watch the sun set over the bay and don’t necessarily want to be tied to the stove (an electric one to boot … oh, the horror), so whatever it is it has to be quick … but it still has to be GOOD!

Oh, Everyday Food, you have saved me yet again. While I miss the printed magazine terribly – oh, please bring it back – the online version will suffice (a little) and brought me this fabulous, quick and easy recipe.

To make this a little more substantial, I put it over linguine. But for a really light supper, just bread and a salad would do the trick!

  • 2 T olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 t hot pepper flakes
  • 3/4 t dried oregano or 2 teaspoons fresh
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (2 cups)
  • 4 pounds clams, scrubbed and rinsed
  • small handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

NOTE: I used Little Neck clams.


In a large pot heat oil over medium-high, add garlic, hot pepper flakes, and oregano. Cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add tomatoes

Add tomatoes, increase heat to high, and cook until the tomatoes burst, about 4 minutes.

NOTE: They don’t really burst, they’re already cut in half. But the skins start to pucker and the tomato halves start to break down a little.

Add clams

Add clams and 3/4 cup water, cover, and cook until clams open, stirring once, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard any unopened clams.

Drizzle with oil and sprinkle chopped parsley on top to serve.

NOTE: I sliced some Italian bread, brushed it with olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, and put them into the oven as I dumped the clams into the pot. Perfect to sop up all the delicious liquid in the bowl.


Pasta alla Checca … sorta …

There’s just a last hurrah of summer left. A few lovely tomatoes, definitely some beautiful basil. I wanted to cook something that really showcased the freshness of 2 of my all time favorite ingredients.

And along came Giada de Laurentiiis and her Checca Sauce from Everyday Italian. Granted, this is a very loose interpretation of her original recipe, but the inspiration is all Giada.

Now, according to her recipe in the book, and as I have written below, the sauce is made in a food processor. And I suppose you could make it in the food processor and it would be fine. But I decided to hand cut everything so that it was slightly chunkier.

  • 8 ounces pasta
  • 4 scallions (white and pale green parts only), coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 (12-ounce container) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 (1-ounce) piece Parmesan, coarsely chopped
  • 8 to 10 fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 4 ozs fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

NOTE: I used more than a 1/2 pound of pasta. I also used vine-ripened tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes,4 tomatoes should do it. I removed some of the seeds and pulp so it wouldn’t be too watery..

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, stirring often, 9 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the next 7 ingredients in a food processor. Pulse just until the tomatoes are coarsely chopped (do not puree).

NOTE: I chopped the tomatoes, basil, garlic and cheeses by hand. I really preferred the more rustic approach to this dish.

Drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta water. Toss the pasta with the tomato mixture and fresh mozzarella in a large bowl. Add some of the reserved pasta water (about 1/4 cup) if the sauce looks dry. Serve immediately.


Orzo with Brown Butter and Parmigiano Reggiano

I know. I know. It’s the evil ORZO. Those that know me know this is the ingredient that strikes fear in my heart and soul.

As soon as it gets a slight bit colder, I’ll make the lamb and orzo dish that has me shaking in fear of ORZO. But for now, let’s just say, when I was a far less confident cook, I followed a recipe my Uncle gave which he mistakenly told me FOUR boxes of orzo. Yes, 4. In a single pot. Naturally, it boiled over … all over everything. Can you say Strega Nona?

But the good folks at Fine Cooking Magazine used two words far too enticing for me to pass up … BROWN BUTTER.

How could I possibly pass up a recipe with BROWN BUTTER, even if it means confronting my demons.

And this was well worth the cold sweats and shaking that went on while measuring the orzo. Nutty, with almost the consistency of risotto but without all the stirring. Great side dish for chicken or fish. Personally, because this is on the heavy and substantial side, the main should be something on the lighter side … but that’s just me!


  • 1 1/2 C lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 C water
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 C orzo
  • 1/3 C dry white wine
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Thinly sliced fresh chives (optional)

In a 1- to 2-quart saucepan, bring the chicken broth and 1/2 cup water to a simmer over medium-high heat.

In a 3-quart heavy-duty saucepan, cook the butter over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter turns golden brown and smells nutty, about 2 minutes.

Add the orzo and stir with a wooden spoon to coat well. Cook until the orzo just begins to turn a light golden color, about 2 minutes.

Pour in the wine and stir until absorbed, about 1 minute. Add the simmering broth mixture, stir, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the orzo is just tender, about 12 minutes; the mixture may still be wet but will set up.

Stir the orzo, season to taste with salt and a generous amount of pepper, and mix in the Parmigiano. Cover and let rest 5 minutes. Add the chives (if using) and serve.

NOTE: Okay, so easy was that!? Nothing to be afraid of … they’re just little pellets of pasta …