june 15, 2021
Last week I pulled some chili from the freezer for a desperation dinner (nothing fresh and no desire for carryout). The chili had several types of beans and vegetables and Beyond Meat burger crumbles. It occurred to me that not one soul could have noted the difference between the plant based meat and the real thing. It’s that good.
Plant based meat products are on my company’s personal chef menus each and every month. Carnivores and vegetarians alike enjoy their taste and texture. I especially like the Spicy Sausages, by themselves or mixed with potatoes and vegetables.
You can use vegan ground beef in most any recipe calling for ground beef, turkey or sausage. I started playing around with Beyond Meat last year and loved that modern meat alternatives taste astoundingly like what carnivores are accustomed to enjoying, with health benefits being the bonus.
Beyond Meat Lasagna is popular with my vegetarian clients and those who strive for a more plant-based diet. Here is my personal truth : I am not a big fan of pasta. I’m more about the sauce and the cheesy fillings. Today’s Beyond Meat Stuffed Shells hits all the right notes—cheesy, saucy and a good fridge and freezer keeper. Patio herbs are plentiful this year, making the obvious choice for filling both cheesy and herbed.
Plant Based Meats Need a Little Extra Liquid
Meat alternatives do indeed taste like the real thing. However, they do suck up a lot of liquid and I find that more liquid in the sauce itself (in this case diced tomato plus water) does offset this quirk. If you have no access to fresh herbs, a couple packs of grocery fresh herbs will do fine in this recipe. Resist the temptation to use dried herbs since they impart a grassy taste. Dry herbs are fine for simmered pasta sauces, however.
This Beyond Meat Stuffed Shells recipe is sure to make everyone at your dinner table happy.
Beyond Meat Stuffed Shells
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes 4-5 servings
1 ¼ cup finely diced sweet onion
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
finely ground white pepper
½ teaspoon each dry oregano and dry basil
one large clove garlic, zested on microplane grater
10 ounces Beyond Meat frozen beefy crumbles
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
14.5 ounce can petite dice tomatoes
⅓ cup water
20-22 gluten free jumbo pasta shells( I like Tinkyada brand)*
15 ounces whole milk ricotta
8 ounces cream cheese
12 ounces shredded Italian cheese blend or mozzarella
large clove garlic, zested on microplane grater
fresh herbs with soft stems : Italian parsley, basil, oregano, all chopped finely so that you have about ½ cup total
* regular durum wheat pasta shells work just as well for this recipe
- For sauce, blend onion and olive oil with pinches of kosher salt and white pepper in heavy saute pan over medium heat until mixture sizzles, then continue to cook on medium low, stirring frequently, until onion becomes tender and translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Add garlic and dry herbs, stir about 5 seconds, then add frozen vegan burger crumbles, crushed tomato and petite diced tomato with water.
- Cook sauce over medium low heat (simmers gently) about 20-25 minutes.
- While sauce cooks, bring two quarts of water to boil with generous pinches of kosher salt, add pasta shells (I often cook two extra in case a couple fall apart, but if appearance is not important, just cook 20), stir gently then simmer, stirring occasionally, until shells are tender and slightly al dente.
- Drain and rinse shells.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees if serving recipe soon (may be made ahead and heated later).
- For filling, combine ricotta, cream cheese, shredded cheese, garlic and chopped herbs with spatula.
- Grease heavy two quart baking dish and spread sauce across bottom.
- Divide filling among 20 shells and arrange over sauce in pan.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes if serving for dinner, or refrigerate/freeze for later.
- Allow shells to come to room temperature before heating if they have been chilled.