Sunday, December 29, 2013

Kale and Pumpkin Stuffed Shells

Merry belated Christmas!!!!

Okay, 'tis the season again: the season when I become a terrible blogger.  Last year, my excuse was that the aftermath of getting engaged was too exciting and crazy, and this year, it's because we were n Florida for the last week.  I had plans of keeping updated with posts (and I had planned to cook, for that matter) but all the fun things to do (as well as my mid-week flu) sort of took precedence over cooking and blogging!  The good news is that I have 4 days of vacation left, so I will try very hard to catch up on the plethora of recipes I made before I went on vacation.

The bad news is that the jury is still out on this first recipe.  Some people liked it, some (guess who) hated it, and there were definitely some issues in attempting to translate a vegan recipe into one that my family would eat.  For instance, it calls for "one batch of vegan ricotta."  I wasn't about to use fake ricotta, and since I wasn't sure what a "batch" was, I just had to add it until it looked right.  It also called for a bunch of kale, and my bunch was so enormous that I ended up hacking off probably only a fourth of it.  You will just have to eye it.

Then there was the sauce issue: what kind of a sauce do you serve with pumpkin stuffed shells?  I thought that pumpkin and tomato just don't seem to be good partners, so I was at a loss of what to put on top.  The blogger said she made a "vegan béchamel," so that's what I decided to try.  Unfortunately, I had to take Daisy to the vet that night, and I ran out of time.  Kenzie volunteered to finish up the meal for me, so she made the sauce and topped the shells with it and baked them.  I texted her to ask how they were going, and the response was, "the sauce turned into molten rock."  I asked if that meant they were ruined, and she replied, "meh tastes decent."   Not the most glowing of reports, and I wasn't sure what molten rock was like to eat, so I went home with a healthy old hound to give them a try.

Here's what I think: these have potential.  The mixture of pumpkin and ricotta is smooth and creamy and a little bit sweet, sweetened a bit more by some balsamic and a little honey.  The slightly bitter kale offsets the sweetness.  But the béchamel was pretty weird... it somehow hardened into a rather unappetizing rock (now I get the molten rock reference, but it was more rock than molten).  Maybe it's not supposed to get baked, and only gets added afterwards?  Vegan béchamel is maybe a different beast.  Either way, I think I would try either tomato sauce or something else again.... if there is an again, since as you probably guessed, my mom hated them (she isn't a pumpkin fan)!


kale and pumpkin stuffed shells
from A Baker's Doesn't

1 batch of vegan ricotta (or regular ricotta!)
1 bunch of kale
1 box of large shell pasta
1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
olive oil for pan
salt and pepper to taste


1) Boil a pot of water and cook shells until al dente.  Drain and set aside to cool.  In the meantime, heat a large skillet with a little olive oil.  Cook down the kale leaves until wilted.  Add salt, pepper, honey and vinegar.  Stir, and once well combined, add kale and pumpkin to the ricotta.

2) Stuff shells and place in a baking dish.  Add a few dollops over finished tray, and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the tops get crispy.

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