Last night's dinner for the girls [I had to go out for a meeting] was stuffed pasta shells. The EFG introduced me to large pasta shells before she went back to uni this autumn and I have used them a couple of times. They are BIG and I served each girl with 5 of them last night.
First of all, I set a cup of lentils to boil in water whilst I put the pasta shells in another pan of water to cook to just before they got to the al dente stage. You want them still quite firm for the stuffing stage, but not still hard. Whilst all that was happening, I fried an onion and then added two grated carrots, a tin of chopped tomatoes and two cloves of garlic, crushed. When the lentils were cooked, I added them to that mixture and it was all combined together. Smelled gorgeous!
I made a quick cheese sauce at this point. I put a generous puddle of it in the bottom of a Pyrex glass dish.
When the pasta was at the right stage, I rinsed it in cold water to cool it down so that I could handle it. Then I took dessert-spoonfuls of the lentil mixture, filled the shells one at a time and laid them on to the cheese sauce in the dish. When I had filled all the shells, the remaining cheese sauce was poured over them so that there was a layer pretty much everywhere. This dish was then put into the oven for about 25 minutes to cook through and go ever so slightly brown on the top.
There was some lentil mixture left so I popped that into a couple of small margerine tubs and stashed it in the freezer.
I served this with some spinach leaves, salad tomatoes and chopped cucumber. It all got eaten!
I can't point to a source for this recipe, as the EFG told me the first version I made a few months ago and I have added the carrot and garlic this time around so it is evolving. If you are meat-eaters, I think it would work well if you stuffed the shells with a bolognese-type sauce mixture too.
Best of all, the entire thing was made of things I had in the cupboard, and it is cheap and cheerful for November's budget menu. When I make it again, I shall try to remember to take a photo or two...
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