Photo Credit: Elizabeth Newman
Shell pasta, known as conchiglie in Italian, is a great vehicle for pretty much any kind of filling. In this recipe, I loaded the shells with vegetables and lentils along with some cheese to make a deliciously hearty, but still plant-based dinner to enjoy in the new year. Plus, in Italian culture, eating lentils in the new year is known to bring good luck, especially prosperity and wealth – so it’s a win win!
Vegetable Stuffed Shells
For the sauce:
- 1/4 cup olive oil divided
- 3 cloves garlic smashed and peeled
- 2 28 ounce cans Hunt’s San Marzano Style Tomatoes, crushed by hand
- 1 carrot halved
- 1 red onion peeled and halved
- 2 sprigs basil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the shells:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 shallot chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt. divided
- 1 fennel trimmed and chopped
- 1 bunch broccolini trimmed and finely chopped
- 1 cup cooked french lentils
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese divided
- 20 jumbo shells
- This post is brought to you in partnership with Hunt’s.
- Heat a medium dutch oven over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil and garlic and cook until the garlic fragrant and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and nestle in the carrots, red onion and basil sprigs. Bring to a steady simmer and adjust the heat to maintain the simmer. Cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally or until reduced by a half and the carrots are soft all the way through. Remove the onions, basil and carrots and discard. Stir in the remaining oil and salt. Using a stick blender, puree to desired consistency. You should have about 3 1/2 cups of sauce
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Season generously with salt. Add the shells (cook a few extra in case some tear) and cook for 9 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and allow to cool slightly.
- Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the oil to the pan followed by the shallot and a 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook for 2 minutes stirring often or until soft and fragrant. Add the fennel, broccolini and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir to combine. Cook, stirring often, for 6 minutes or until the fennel and broccolini are tender. Remove from the heat and stir in the lentils. Cool slightly. Stir in the ricotta, oregano, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Spoon 3 cups of the sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Divide the filling among 20 shells and nestle them into the sauce. Drizzle with the remaining 1/2 cup sauce and sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese. Bake for 25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly.