Skip to main content

Gluten-Free Italian - Baked Stuffed Shells


Gluten Free Goddess Italian Baked Stuffed Shells


Italian Dreams.
There isn't a speck of Italian blood in me. Allegedly. No blood lines (even faint ones) to trace back to Italy's flavor and culture rich boot. I claim no Italian grandmother with deft, gnarled hands who could roll out ravioli dough in her sleep. No puttering, gardening grandfather who offered me my first taste of a sun warmed tomato straight off the string-tied vine. We didn't have lasagna on our Thanksgiving table. Or baked ziti. My mother never mixed me an almond infused Italian soda after a rough day at school.

So why is Italian food- forever, for me- the ultimate comfort food? Hungry, angry, lonely, tired- what do I crave?

Spaghetti slick with garlicky olive oil. Bubbling hot lasagna. Fresh baked focaccia. Bruschetta. Risotto. Baked stuffed shells.

All heaven.



The tough part is- living gluten-free AND dairy-free can seriously crush your Italian gilded comfort food dreams.

Back in the day, there were no gluten-free lasagna noodles or stuff-able GF pasta shells (not in my neck of the woods, anyway). Though times have changed, pasta-wise- thank goddess. Most supermarkets now carry gluten-free pasta in all shapes and sizes. And if you cook it just right (in salted water, till al dente) and immediately drizzle it with extra virgin olive oil- most of it tastes mighty good. And if you are among the agriculturally evolved among us who can digest milk, your cheesy world still glitters with buttery glory (cream, butter, and cheese go a long way to improving the flavor of gluten-free recipes, let's be honest). But.


If- like yours truly- you have to live without the salty flavor punch of Parmesan or creamy tang of fresh goat cheese, comfort food can turn into one big, ho-hum yawn. Vegan cheese is no substitute (yes, I've tried them all). Unless your concept of cheese involves an aerosol can, plastic-shiny slices in peel-away shrink-wrap or orange powder you added to hot milk (no offense to corporate giant produced fake foods, or anything). In that case, processed oil with pea protein vegan cheese might remind you of something seemingly related to the cheese family. Me? I can't get past the funky sock odor and poly-vinyl texture.


Maybe because I was lucky. I had two years of Home Economics class. I cooked my own whole milk white cheddar sauce for baked macaroni and cheese (the first thing I learned to cook, at 13, stirring a white roux with flour and unsalted butter). Post honeymoon I shaved velvet slivers of golden Parmesan from precious wedges of Italian Reggiano, thanks to two weeks in Italy. And I spoon-stuffed pasta shells with a classic blend of ricotta and shredded mozzarella thanks to an armful of hippie-vegetarian cookbooks.

So, yes, there are days I miss dairy food. Especially in winter.

And thus, began experimenting, inventing ways to make up for the loss of genuine cheesy goodness. The first part was easy. I turned to organic soft tofu for a ricotta substitute (my mainstay for years as a vegetarian goddess). I may as well admit I not only tolerate tofu, I love tofu. And lucky for me, this fermented bean curd stuff loves me, too (I know this is not the case for everyone- and for those of you with a milk allergy AND soy allergy, I truly feel your pain).

For the topping I use a blend of Italian seasoned bread crumbs (I use Udi's gluten-free white sandwich bread processed into crumbs with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and herbs) and almond meal (almond meal has a soft, powdery mouth feel faintly reminiscent of grated cheese) with sea salt for a salty-cheesier taste.

The latest version (created back in West Hollywood) was a winner- and we've been making it ever since. The family loves it. Even the gluten-eaters.

All I know is there is never a scrap left over.

Which as any cook knows, speaks volumes






Karina's creamy, non-dairy stuffing for Italian shells
Stuffing gluten-free pasta shells
Gluten Free Goddess Italian Baked Stuffed Shells

Gluten-Free Baked Stuffed Shells Recipe

Recipe posted January 2013 by Karina Allrich.

These gluten-free dairy-free Italian stuffed shells are lighter than traditional cheese-stuffed shells- and so fresh tasting. Chopped herbs, garlic, and crunchy bread crumbs work serious magic. This recipe is our current favorite comfort food. We make it once a week. Perfect for a chilly winter's night.

Ingredients:

1 8-oz box gluten-free grand pasta shells
4 breakfast sized sweet Italian sausages, chopped
2 cups baby spinach leaves, stemmed
1 14-oz tub organic soft tofu, drained, pressed to release water
1 large free-range organic egg, beaten
2 tablespoons Vegenaise (just trust me)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon mild GF curry powder
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
16 ounces good marinara sauce (Italian red pasta sauce)

For topping:

2 slices gluten-free sandwich bread, torn into several pieces
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons almond meal
Sea salt, to taste
Chopped fresh parsley

Instructions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a medium rolling boil, add the GF shells, lower the heat to medium-high and cook on high simmer for 6 minutes, gently stirring now and then, till softened but still firm. Drain well, separate the shells and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350ยบ.

In a skillet, saute the sausage briefly, till golden and starting to brown a bit.

Rinse the spinach leaves and drain well. Add them to the sausages and stir till wilted; remove from heat.

Place the drained tofu in a bowl and use a potato masher to break up the tofu into "curds". Add in the egg, Vegenaise, parsley, nutmeg and curry. Stir briefly to combine. Season with sea salt and ground pepper, to taste.

Add in the sausage-spinach mixture and lightly stir.

Pour 3/4 cup marinara sauce into the bottom of a medium-sized baking dish and spread evenly.

Spoon the tofu mixture into the par-cooked shells and place them in the baking pan stuffing side up. Cover with remaining marinara sauce. (The sauce will help cook the partially cooked pasta shells.)

In a food processor, make the topping by processing the gluten-free bread into crumbs. Add in garlic, dried basil and thyme. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil into the crumbs and pulse until the crumbs are moist and fall away from the sides of the processor.

Sprinkle the top of the sauced shells with the breadcrumb mixture.

Sprinkle with almond meal; season the topping with sea salt.

Sprinkle with extra chopped parsley.

That's a lot of sprinkling. Welcome to my world.

Cover with a piece of foil and bake in the center of the oven until the shells are tender, the stuffing is piping hot, and the sauce is bubbling.


Makes 4 generous servings.


Recipe Source: glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com

All images & content are copyright protected, all rights reserved. Please do not use our images or content without prior permission. Thank you. 

GFG Notes:

Yes, you can use moo-cow dairy cheese instead; blend 14-ounces of ricotta cheese with a cup of shredded mozzarella, and use grated Parmesan on top.

If you must be egg-free, omit the egg from the filling.

To keep this vegan, omit the egg and Italian sausage. You might have a few unstuffed shells.




TRENDING

Gluten-Free Goddess Raspberry Jam Bars

Sweet and simple raspberry jam bars. Let's be honest. I am here today to tempt you. To coax you. To seduce you with a gluten-free dessert worthy of every single luscious calorie. In full transparency, I am admitting up front these are not fat-free. Or sugar-free. These aren't diet food. They're not proper for breakfast (unless you serve them with Champagne). And you won't be able to sigh ever-so-wistfully at parties and mention, off hand, how hard it is to eat gluten-free at family gatherings and parties. Because, Darling Reader, you'll score zero sympathy points once people sink their teeth into the luscious raspberry jam filling nestled between buttery toasted coconut-almond crunch topping and tender hazelnut cookie crust. Nope. In fact, these decadent raspberry coconut-almond bars should come with a warning:   Be careful who you share these with. Because they are sure to fall madly in love with you. Seriously. Karina xox

Gluten-Free Baking Tips + Substitutions

Need wheat-free gluten-free baking tips? Help is Here. Here's what works- and what doesn't- in quirky Gluten-Free Baking and Substitution Land. From Karina, Gluten-Free Goddess®. Baking Substitutions for Wheat-Free, Gluten-Free and More Notes on GF Flours: Gluten-free non-wheat flours generally fall into three basic weights- light starch, all-purpose medium, or heavier whole grain. A blend of medium and heavy flours with some starch mixed in to lighten, tenderize, and help bind the batter or dough works best, and tastes best (too much starch can result in a gummy texture). Light, starchy GF flours include sweet rice flour, white rice flour, and the ubiquitous gluten-free starches- tapioca starch, cornstarch, potato starch (NOT potato flour, which is whole different animal) and arrowroot starch. Medium flours are akin to 'all purpose flour'- these include sorghum flour, certified gluten-free oat flour, and superfine brown rice flour. If you cannot find sorg

Gluten-Free Goddess Bread Recipe - dairy-free and rice-free, too

One Delicious Loaf... Man shall not live by bread alone, so the famous saying goes. In other words, we need ideas to feed us, too. We need awareness. Conscious action. An expression and celebration of the spirit. And yet (here's the sticky part, folks) almost every spiritual tradition includes the bread we shall not solely live by, whether it be a hand-torn loaf, a paper thin wafer, a piece of matzoh, a curve of naan, or a sprinkle of cornmeal. Breaking bread and sharing grain is a cherished and beloved symbol for community, celebration and tribal nourishment. From Holy Communion to the Super Bowl gatherings around an elevating principle or a family milestone (from birth to marriage to funerals) include the simple but connecting gesture of sharing food. Because cooking makes us human. And eating illustrates our kinship with the entire animal kingdom. Humans are animals, after all, interlinked and cousined by astonishingly similar DNA and subatomic particles from the

Gluten-Free Goddess Brownies- The Best

Why bake a gluten-free brownie from scratch and not a mix? While baking mixes are perfectly acceptable in a pinch, and no doubt a boon to busy cooks on a gluten-free diet (well, honestly, who isn't busy, preoccupied, overwhelmed, and anxious these days, I ask you?), your taste buds will tell you why. In a heart beat, Darling. A dark chocolate brownie made from scratch is deeply delicious and decadent. Impressive, even. Company worthy. Dare I say, date night worthy. I'm not kidding. This brownie recipe is swoon inducing. (You know what they say about chocolate.)  But here's the best part. Throwing this recipe together takes only a few minutes longer than opening up a box of mix. In fact, you can whip up these luscious gooey babies in a mere ten minutes. In less time than it takes you to scan your daily dose of cute animals IG feed.  Seriously.  So what is more rewarding? Watching baby donkeys frolic on Instagram or stirring together this rich, tender, dark chocolat

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets, Chick Peas and Orange

Fresh, bright quinoa salad with oranges and roasted beets. Roasted Beets + Quinoa are a super yum match. Trust me. February second. We survived January, Darling. Happy Groundhog Day to you. Happy Imbolc. The dwindling of winter is at last within reach- no matter what Punxatawny Phil predicts. Six weeks is doable. After all, there is chocolate. Irish Soda Bread . And soul warming soup . And our hope-fueled New Year betterments are still on track (right?). If not, the year is young. Tomorrow is a fresh start. To celebrate, let's throw a party. My contribution? A gluten-free vegan salad that is perfect for parties. Because throwing a party is a tad more complicated than it used to be. There are vegans to accommodate. And newly gluten-free friends and neighbors to feed. And let's face it. Everyone is a wee bit bored by those layered taco bean dips and pork sliders. Gooey meat and cheese is so predictable. Pizza dips are so frat house. Why not go fresh and bre

How To Cook Quinoa in a Rice Cooker (with recipes)

How to cook quinoa in a rice cooker.  How do you cook quinoa? I was recently asked. The answer is simple.   Easy. Fast. Rockin'. I cook it in a rice cooker. In fact, quinoa is the easiest no-fuss "grain" you'll ever cook. It's healthy fast food. Cook up a batch ahead of time and you can stir up a fabulous light lunch (like the Lime Quinoa Salad with Mint ) in a New York minute. Well, maybe a Los Angeles minute. No wait. A Santa Fe minute. I can't keep up with where we are these days. It doesn't matter. It's all good. Try these favorite quinoa recipes and you'll see for yourself. Love, Karina xo How to cook quinoa in a rice cooker: 1. Using a fine mesh sieve rinse 1 cup of organic quinoa in cold water. Drain. 2. Dump rinsed quinoa into your rice cooker. 3. Add 2 cups fresh water* see notes. 4. Turn on your rice cooker. That's it. In about fifteen minutes* you'll have hot fluffy quinoa to play with.

Gluten-Free Goddess Lemon Yogurt Cake

Luscious Lemon Cake So  I've been jonesing for a cake laced with citrus- not too sweet and not too light. A cake with character and heft.  Something akin to a lovely simple cake I remember liking as a child, a store bought bakery cake called Louisiana Ring made by Freihofer's. The cake featured a hint of orange. The day I decided to bake, I did not have oranges in the pantry- but I did have some lemons, organic Greek yogurt, and plenty of blanched almond flour.  And this simple home baked lemon cake was born.  In time for Spring. Love, Karina xo