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Festive Stuffed Shells
Makes 4 to 6 servings
20 to 22 jumbo pasta shells
3 to 4 large russet potatoes, baked and cooled (see note)
1/4 cup unsweetened nondairy milk
1/2 cup diced yellow or sweet onion (about 1 small onion)
1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups lightly packed baby spinach, finely chopped
1 1/3 cups Dad’s Marinara (see below) or your favorite prepared marinara sauce, plus more for serving
Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
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.
Meanwhile, slice each potato in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the pulp, using a teaspoon or grapefruit spoon. Measure out three cups of the potato pulp, making sure to pack it very tightly into the measuring cup. Put the three cups of the potato pulp in a blender. Add the nondairy milk, onion, garlic, and sea salt. Process until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Fold the chopped baby spinach in to the potato mixture.
Spread 1 cup of the marinara sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 12 casserole dish.
Spoon about one and a half 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 one heaping teaspoon of the marinara sauce. Cover and bake 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the sauce is bubbling. Uncover during the last 5 to 7 minutes of baking for shells to brown slightly. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. I like to serve three shells per person arranged on top of my Quick Baby Spinach Salad recipe. Serve extra sauce in a gravy boat or small bowl to pass at the table.
* Potatoes may be baked a day in advance of preparing the shells. After baking, wrap the potatoes tightly in foil and refrigerate until needed.
* No need to throw the potato skins away! The leftover skins may be stored in a tightly covered container for up to two days, before using them in recipes. To make Potato Skin Oven Fries, simply slice the left over potato skins into strips. Put them in a large bowl and toss them with some garlic powder, all-purpose seasoning, chili powder, and paprika. (You may add a drizzle of olive oil if you like.) Spread the potato strips in an even layer on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake in a 400 degrees F oven for 20 to 35 minutes or until they are crisp and golden. Delish!
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes (I use crushed tomatoes, but Dad uses canned tomato sauce)
1 cup filtered or spring water, plus more as needed
3 cloves garlic, minced, or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (1/8 teaspoon for a less spicy sauce)
2 tablespoons good red wine (optional)
Sea salt or Himalayan pink salt (to taste)
Put the tomatoes, water, garlic, basil, oregano, parsley, and red pepper in a large sauce pan. If mixture seems too thick, add 1/4 cup water. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Add the optional red wine and simmer for 15 to 30 minutes more, or up to 2 hours (the longer you cook it, the more developed the flavors will be). Add salt to taste, if desired. Serve over whole-grain pasta of your choice.
Quick Baby Spinach Salad
Makes 2 to 3 servings
3 cups lightly packed baby spinach
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup
Freshly ground sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
Freshly ground pepper
Put the spinach in a medium bowl. To make the dressing, put the vinegar and maple syrup in a small bowl and briskly whisk until smooth. Pour the dressing over the spinach and toss gently to coat the leaves. Top with sea salt and pepper to taste.
Black Forest Pecan Pie
Makes 8 servings
10 large pitted Medjool dates
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup raw unsweetened shredded dried coconut
1/4 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup unsulphured blackstrap molasses
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
5 pitted Medjool dates
2 tablespoons vegan margarine
2 tablespoons filtered or spring water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
15 pecan halves
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
To make the crust, put the dates, oats, coconut, and pecans in a high-performance blender or food processor, and process to the consistency of soft dough. Transfer the dough onto a board and form it into a ball. Flatten the dough slightly with your hands, and then use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 10-inch round. Invert the dough on to an ungreased 9-inch pie plate. Press the date mixture evenly over the bottom of the plate, pushing it up the sides of the pie plate as you go, to make a crust.
To craft a pretty edge to the crust, use your index finger to push the inner edge of the crust out, while pinching the outer edge in with the thumb and index finger of your other hand to make a classic scallop edge around the piecrust.
To make the filling, put the maple syrup, molasses, chocolate chips, pitted dates, margarine, water, and vanilla extract in a blender and process until very smooth. Pour the maple mixture in a medium bowl. Fold in 1 1/2 cups pecan halves.
Pour the filling into the crust and smooth the top using a rubber spatula. Gently press 15 pecans halved into the top of the pie, arranging them in a pleasing manner. Put the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the edges start to set and brown. Tent the pie with foil and bake for 5 to 8 minutes more, or until the pie has almost set in the middle. The filling will still be somewhat soft.
Carefully put the pie on a wire rack (the filling will be very hot!) and let cool for 1 hour. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. Cover and store leftover pie in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Vanilla Crème “Fresh”
Makes 4 servings
8 ounces extra firm tofu (I like the sprouted variety best for this)
1 tablespoon nondairy milk, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons maple syrup, plus more as needed
Put all ingredients into a blender and process until smooth. Taste and add more maple syrup if sweeter flavor is desired. Chill 2 to 4 hours and serve. This is delicious served over cakes, pies fresh fruit and tarts.