Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Almond Ricotta-Stuffed Shells and Vegan MoFo

You may have felt an inexplicable buzz of excitement, heard the unmistakable sound of food bloggers taking pictures, uploading and typing, or maybe you've just noticed vegan and vegetarian bloggers coming out in droves lately, and wondered why. Well, it's because today is the first day of Vegan MoFo, the magical time of the year when we all band together and update our blogs at least once every weekday for a whole month.

Last year my computer crashed a mere four posts in, but, given that my computer has already crashed once this year, that I'll be out of town and away from computer for about 2/5 of the month (more on that later), and that I have a back up plan, I'm ready for Vegan MoFo 2008. For an ever-expanding list of Vegan MoFo Bloggers, check out Isa's Blog. Hopefully, this will introduce new bloggers to a different audience, widen and reinforce the vegan support network, inspire people, and show how gorgeous, tasty and fun vegan food can be!

I also have an update about a new blog that I've joined, Lone Star Plate, which is a group blog comprised of vegans from all over Texas! I'm aiming to post a combination of new content and cross-posted content from Vegan Vanguard.

Now, onto the food!

Almond Ricotta-Stuffed Shells with Blanched Broccoli and Seitan Sausage

Summer in Austin can be unbearably hot, and on most days, the last thing you want to do is spend an hour in front of a hot stove, which is what made this one of our favorite easy summer meals. If you blanch your greens in the water before you cook the pasta, then you'll only end up using one pan, too, which makes clean up super easy! I came up with this simple dish when JD's mother was in town and I wanted something that was semi-familiar, like pasta and marinara, but also simple, elegant and tofu-free. I know that a lot of people use and love tofu ricotta, and while I think it's great in lasagna, I don't think it's quite right in dishes where it's the main ingredient, and I like to show people who haven't had much exposure to vegans that we really do eat more than just tofu and salad.
This recipe does require a long soak, which you can either start in the morning before you go to work, or in the evening, for the next day. If you start this a day ahead and you don't want the almonds to ferment, place the soaking almonds in the fridge. To make a fermented almond cheese, after soaking the almonds for 8 hours, drain the water and allow them to ferment for a more complex flavor and additional healing benefits.

Soaking nuts makes their protein and fat more digestible and accessible.

Almond Ricotta Stuffed Shells up close

Almond Ricotta Stuffed Pasta Shells
by Christina Terriquez

1 cup raw almonds
1--2 cloves fresh garlic
ume vinegar
sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, minced

8-12 jumbo pasta shells, boiled until al dente and drained
2 cups of your favorite marinara, red sauce, or Mama Mia sauce

Either blanch and skin the almonds, or soak the almond until the skin inflates and skin the almonds. Soak skinned almonds for 8 hours.

Blend soaked almonds and garlic, in a blender or food processor, slowly adding water as needed to achieve a homogeneous, but slightly textured ricotta consistency. Season to taste with ume and sea salt, then add parsley.

Heat marinara.

Gently spoon almond ricotta into each shell. Pour a little marinara on each plate, then arrange shells over marinara, and finish with more marinara. Garnish with parsley, if desired. Serve with blanched or sautéed greens.

-Use fermented almond cheese, but dilute with a little water and season with garlic, ume and sea salt.

-Use basil and oregano in place of or in addition to Italian Parsley.

-Add freshly ground black pepper.

-Use with almond ricotta with manicotti instead of jumbo shells.

Almond Ricotta-Stuffed Manicotti with Red Kale


JD said...

Yummy. You need to make this again before you abandon me for a month.

Jeni Treehugger said...

MY GOD! That looks good!
i am soooo going to make this!