Vegetarian Skillet Stuffed Shells

This one-pan, stovetop recipe turns cheesy stuffed pasta into a weeknight dinner. It was a perfect crowd-pleasing dish to serve on a chilly evening. Jarred marinara is used as a shortcut- enhanced with buttery sautéed garlic and red pepper flakes. Great.

This recipe was adapted from epicurious.com, contributed by Anna Stockwell. I modified the proportions and method, and used dried oregano. I recommend eating it with crusty bread or garlic bread to mop up the sauce.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 20 jumbo pasta shells (about 6 to 6.5 oz)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 to 10 oz crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 5 oz baby spinach
  • 6 to 9 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 24 to 28 oz jarred marinara sauce (I used 28 oz Rao’s Marinara)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups (15 to 16 oz) whole-milk ricotta
  • 3 oz finely grated Parmesan (about 1 cup), plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano
  • fresh parsley or oregano, chopped, for garnish, optional
  • crusty bread or garlic bread for serving, optional
  1. Cook shells in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 9 minutes; drain. Run under cold water to stop the cooking; drain again. (I cooked 22 shells just to be safe but only used 20.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet (with a lid) over medium-high. (I used a large, wide enameled cast iron pan.)
  3. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they release juices, then are dry again and nicely browned, 5–10 minutes; season with black pepper and 1/2 tsp salt.
  4. Reduce heat to medium, add wine, and cook, stirring, until reduced by half, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  5. Add spinach, stir, cover, and cook until beginning to wilt, 1–2 minutes.
  6. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is completely wilted and most of the liquid is evaporated, 2–4 minutes more. Transfer mushroom mixture to a large bowl; reserve skillet.
  7. Add ricotta, Parmesan, 2 T fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano, and remaining 1/2 tsp salt to mushroom mixture and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning, to taste.
  8. Spoon about 2 T ricotta mixture into each shell. The shell should be filled to capacity but not overstuffed. (I used a cookie scoop to ration the filling.)
  9. Cook garlic and butter in reserved skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is fragrant and beginning to brown, 2–3 minutes.
  10. Add marinara sauce and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until warmed through, 6–8 minutes.
  11. Nestle stuffed shells into hot sauce in skillet.
  12. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until shells are warmed through, 5–6 minutes.
  13. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes.
  14. Sprinkle with Parmesan and chopped fresh parsley or oregano. Serve with crusty bread or garlic bread, as desired.

One-Pan Orzo with Spinach & Feta

This is another weeknight dish loaded with spinach. I also incorporated my CSA turnip greens. It features many of the flavors of my favorite Greek dishes, including lemon zest, feta, and fresh herbs. I used parsley from my CSA share as well.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. It was very quick and easy to prepare. I used a large, wide enameled cast iron pot. I increased the amount of garlic and modified the cooking method.

Yield: 3 to 4 servings

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced, divided
  • 2 to 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces baby spinach leaves (8 cups), coarsely chopped (I used 6oz spinach and 2oz turnip greens)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta (3 ounces), plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 cup fresh dill, or use parsley or cilantro, chopped
  1. Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium, then melt butter, 30 seconds to 1 minute. (I used a large and wide enameled cast iron pot.)
  2. Stir in about three-quarters of the scallions (saving some of the green parts for garnish) and garlic, and cook until softened, stirring frequently, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in stock and bring to a simmer.
  4. Stir in orzo, lemon zest and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until orzo is nearly cooked through and most of the liquid is absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  5. Stir in spinach (and other greens, if using), adding in batches if it doesn’t all fit in the pan at once, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in cheese, peas, and dill/parsley/cilantro, cover the pan, and cook for another 1 minute, to finish cooking and warm the peas.
  7. To serve, sprinkle with more cheese and the reserved scallions.

One-Pan Pork Sausage Meatballs with Green Lentils

I love one-pan dishes! This dish is made in the oven using one baking dish. It was also easy to prepare. 🙂 I modified the recipe due to personal preference- and to incorporate ingredients that I had readily available. I included all of the options in the recipe below.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. I modified the proportions and oven temperature, used celery instead of fennel, and added carrots. I also substituted sweet Italian pork sausage for hot sausage and green lentils for brown lentils. The vinegar was essential to the finished dish.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 4 celery stalks, diced or 1 fennel bulb, cored, cut into 1/2-inch wedges through the root, plus 1/4 cup fresh fennel fronds
  • 4 large carrots, diced
  • 1 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds bulk hot or sweet Italian pork sausage (or fresh Italian sausages, casings removed)(or a combination)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups green or brown lentils
  • 4 to 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • 1-2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, plus more for serving
  1. Heat the oven to 425°, preferably on convection.
  2. In a 9×13-inch baking pan or baking dish, gently toss the celery and carrots (or fennel wedges) with the olive oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper. (I used a ceramic baking dish.)
  3. Roast until vegetables are golden brown underneath, about 10 minutes for fennel or up to 20 minutes for carrots and celery. (Fennel will not be tender at this point.)
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, use your hands or a spoon to mix the sausage with the egg until combined. Roll the mixture into 16 (1 1/2-inch) meatballs.
  5. Add the chicken stock, lentils, garlic and rosemary to the roasted vegetables. Stir to combine, then season with 3/4 teaspoon salt.
  6. Place the meatballs in the lentil mixture, drizzle the meatballs with olive oil, then roast until the meatballs are browned on top and lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
  7. Transfer the meatballs to a plate. Discard the rosemary sprig, then stir in the vinegar, parsley leaves and fennel fronds, if using (reserve a few fronds for garnishing, if desired). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Spoon the lentils and any braising liquid onto shallow bowls and top with the meatballs.
  9. Garnish with additional parsley leaves and fennel fronds, if desired.

Herby Polenta with Corn, Eggs, & Feta

This is another wonderful one-pot vegetarian baked egg casserole that can be served any time of day. The title of the New York Times article about it was, “Polenta That You’ll Never Need to Stir: Baking a classic in a sea of eggs and cheese gives it complexity.” Irresistible. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yotam Ottolenghi. I used my special grits from Charleston, South Carolina instead of polenta. I also increased the amount of garlic, reduced the red pepper flakes, and kept the corn kernels whole. I loved all of the brightness from the combination of fresh herbs. Delicious!

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 9 ounces (255 g) frozen corn kernels (about 2 cups), defrosted
  • 6 to 7 ounces (~200 g) baby spinach (about 10 lightly packed cups), roughly torn or sliced
  • 1 cup (150 g) coarse cornmeal (grits or polenta)
  • 1 packed cup (50 g) finely grated Parmesan (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 5 scallions, thinly sliced, 2 T reserved for garnish
  • 1/4 cup (20 g) roughly chopped fresh cilantro, plus 1 T finely chopped and reserved for garnish
  • 3 T roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 T roughly chopped fresh dill
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/4 cups (530 ml) whole milk
  • 2 cups (475 ml) chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 3 T (40 g) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 5 ounces (140 g) Greek feta, roughly crumbled (about 1 cup)
  • 8 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp red-pepper flakes, plus more for garnish
  • warm naan, pita, or crusty bread, for serving
  1. Heat the oven to 375°F/200°C, preferably on convection.
  2. If desired, add the corn to a food processor and pulse once or twice, just until roughly chopped. (I opted to leave the kernels whole.)
  3. In a large bowl, combine the corn, spinach, cornmeal, Parmesan, scallions, 1/4 cup cilantro, parsley, dill, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a good grind of pepper; stir to combine.
  4. Transfer this mixture to a large, deep, oven-proof skillet, then add the milk, stock and butter, stirring gently to mix through. (I used a large enameled cast iron pan.)
  5. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and give everything a good whisk.
  6. Return to the oven and bake until the cornmeal is cooked through and the mixture has thickened, about 20 minutes. Give the polenta another good whisk — it should be quite smooth and not completely set — then stir in half the feta.
  7. Increase the oven temperature to 425°F/220°C, preferably on convection.
  8. Use a dinner spoon to make 8 shallow wells in the polenta. Crack an egg into each well and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
  9. Sprinkle the remaining feta all over, and bake until the egg whites are cooked and the yolks are still runny, 10 to 15 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile, combine the reserved scallions and cilantro in a bowl with the oil. Spoon this mixture all over the polenta and eggs and sprinkle with the red-pepper flakes, if desired. Serve directly from the pan.

Shakshuka with Feta

As in my last post, this recipe was re-published in a New York Times special section called One Pot/Pan/Skillet: 24 Brilliant Recipes for Everyone Who Hates Doing the Dishes. My dream. 🙂

During this time of self-quarantine, I have made or plan to make several other dishes from this collection including past favorites like One-Pan Shrimp Scampi with Orzo and Mustard Chicken with Shallots and White Wine.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. We ate it for dinner with a crusty sourdough baguette and a giant green salad. This quick and tasty dish can be served any meal of the day.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/8 tsp ground cayenne, or to taste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes with their juices, coarsely chopped (I used San Marzano)
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 5 ounces feta, crumbled (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 6 to 8 large eggs (I used 7)
  • chopped cilantro, for serving
  • hot sauce, for serving
  • warm pita or crusty bread, for serving
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low. (I used a large enameled cast iron pot.)
  3. Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook gently until very soft, about 20 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes; stir in cumin, paprika and cayenne, and cook 1 minute.
  5. Pour in tomatoes and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; simmer until tomatoes have thickened, about 10 minutes.
  6. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Stir in crumbled feta.
  7. Gently crack eggs into skillet over tomatoes. Season eggs with salt and pepper.
  8. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until eggs are just set, 7 to 10 minutes.
  9. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with hot sauce and warm bread.

Skillet Shepherd’s Pie

My son and I made this dish together for our St. Patrick’s Day dinner. We’ve been keeping ourselves busy while we’re stuck at home! He is a big fan of mashed potatoes, so he made the topping himself. I loved the ridged pattern on the finished crust.

Although the recipe is streamlined to be made in one skillet, it was still a little bit time-consuming. (Thankfully, we had plenty of time!) The plus side is that it can be prepared with ingredients that are readily available in your pantry and freezer. It definitely created less dishes too. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen via The Associated Press. It was originally published in their book, Cook it in Cast Iron. I used a combination of Dutch yellow baby potatoes and red potatoes instead of russet potatoes, ground turkey instead of ground beef, increased the amount of garlic, and modified the method. Great comfort food.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 pounds potatoes, Dutch yellow baby potatoes (unpeeled), red potatoes (unpeeled), or russets (peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 T unsalted butter, divided (4 T melted)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds of ground turkey or 93% lean ground beef
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  1. Cover potatoes with water in large saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon salt, bring to simmer over medium-high heat, and cook until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes for unpeeled baby potatoes or 8 to 10 minutes for peeled and cut russet potatoes.
  2. Drain potatoes and return them to saucepan. If using unpeeled baby potatoes, remove the peels at this point.
  3. Using a potato ricer, process all of the potatoes. (Alternatively the potatoes can be mashed until smooth.)
  4. In a measuring cup, whisk milk and egg together. Stir into potatoes along with 4 tablespoons of melted butter, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; cover and set aside.
  5. Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes.
  6. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in skillet.
  7. Add carrots, onion, and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  8. Add ground meat and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes.
  9. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  10. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.
  11. Slowly stir in stock and Worcestershire, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps.
  12. Bring to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.
  13. Off the heat, stir in peas and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  14. Adjust oven rack 5 inches from broiler element and heat broiler.
  15. Dollop the mashed potatoes over the top of the filling. Smooth topping with a knife or the back of a spoon, then use the tines of a fork to make ridges on the surface.
  16. Place the skillet in the oven and broil until topping is golden brown and crusty, 5 to 10 minutes.
  17. Let the casserole cool for 10 minutes before serving.

One-Pan Shrimp Scampi with Orzo

This is an incredibly full-flavored one-pan dish. I made it when my mom was visiting because she is such a fan of shrimp. She loved it! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. Fast and fabulous.

  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, patted dry
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup orzo
  • cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups boiling water, seafood stock, or chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the shrimp, 1 tablespoon olive oil, the lemon zest, red-pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and half the garlic. Set aside to marinate (this step can be done up to 1 hour in advance).
  2. To a medium skillet, add the butter, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and remaining minced garlic; heat over medium.
  3. When the butter starts to bubble, add the orzo and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until the orzo is toasted, about 2 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent the garlic from burning.
  4. Carefully add the wine (it will bubble) and stir until absorbed, about 1 minute.
  5. Stir in the water or stock, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until the orzo is al dente, about 12 to 16 minutes.
  6. Add the shrimp in a snug, even layer on top of the orzo, cover, and cook until all the shrimp is pink and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, 2 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle with parsley and lemon juice, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

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