Sweet Potato & Fennel Stuffed Shells


I've always been a fan of the Traveling Wilburys, as far back as I can remember, playing their record over and over again throughout my childhood. Recently, I've re-discovered the albums, and have been listening to them on a loop. For those of you who don't know, the Wilburys are actually a supergroup (in which nobody is actually named Wilbury) consisting of Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, George Harrison and Jeff Lynn. A supergroup is what occurs when multiple successful solo artists come together to form something that can only be described as super. 



These stuffed shells are the supergroup of the food world: a combination of already amazing foods that become exponentially more delicious when they're put together.  Pasta. Sweet Potatoes. Fennel. Kale. Pesto. Mascarpone. (Writing this, I'm already wishing that I had made more.) I mean, just look at the photos. And then, when you find out that it's spiced with an unusually delicious combination of cinnamon, sage, allspice and nutmeg, you'll want to eat this all autumn long.


Sweet Potato & Fennel Stuffed Shells
recipe by allison sklar

MAKE IT VEGAN: omit the mascarpone and sub 1/4 cup soaked raw cashews, blended. 

ingredients
1/4 cup vegan pesto sauce

4 tbsp mascarpone (if vegan, see note above)
2 tsp cooking oil
2 onions, diced

1 bulb fennel, chopped
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled & diced
3 tbsp salted butter or vegan margarine
4 tbsp maple syrup
3 cups water

1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1 cup finely chopped fresh kale
10 to 12 large pasta shells

method

Mix mascarpone (or cashew paste) and pesto together and set aside.

In a wide, deep saucepan over medium heat, heat oil and sautée onions until translucent. Add fennel and stir, sautéeing until brown. Add water, sweet potatoes, butter/margarine and maple syrup. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium, stir once, and continue to cook uncovered until water is absorbed and butter & honey start to caramelize, about 20 minutes. Do not stir.

Add spinach & kale, stir, and scrape the bottom of the pan. Spoon in 1/4 cup of pesto mixture. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if desired. Cover and keep warm.

Cook shells according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Carefully spoon potato mixture into each shell, topping with remaining pesto mixture. Serve warm, garnished with your favorite parmesan or vegan cheese shreds. 

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