Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cheesy shells with fire roasted tomatoes and a surprise ingredient

One cold winter night, I had dinner with the world's top chef at a very exclusive restaurant.  Otherwise known as dinner with my parents.  The menu featured creamy baked shells with tomatoes and feta.  There was something about this pasta that was like no other.  After I raced my dad to get seconds, I asked my mom about the magic behind this simple mac n' cheese dish.

The secret ingredient was...

I know there are a lot of tofu haters out there.  Well, sit back with an open mind and let's see if we can't convert you.  In addition to being a great meal right out of the oven, this recipe freezes well and is a staple offering in the Birchwood Lunchbox.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 12 oz small pasta shells
  • 14.5 oz canned fire roasted tomatoes, drained.
  • 12 oz soft silken tofu
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Ground nutmeg
  • 1 ⅓ cup cheddar cheese, divided
  • ¼ cup feta cheese 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Turn off heat and add pasta.  Let sit for about 10 minutes.  The shells should be al dente - with a little bite left to them.  While you wait, congratulate yourself for learning Italian and drain the can of fire roasted tomatoes.

Drain the shells in a colander.

The only thing that I hate about tofu is getting it out of the box, which can be a messy job.  Cut the top off, and drain out the liquid.

Combine the tofu, yogurt, milk, 1 cup of the cheddar, and a dash of salt and pepper in a blender.

Grate a little nutmeg on top.

Blend it all together.  At this point, start pre-heating your oven to 350°.

Lightly grease an 8" x 8" pan and add the pasta and fire roasted tomatoes.  Let's take a quick detour to discuss fire roasted tomatoes, which come from the long list of "Great foods featured on the Biggest Loser".  Let's see that list:
  1. Wholly Guacamole 100 calorie snack packs.
  2. Fire roasted tomatoes
Got it memorized?   Good.  Let's continue with our regularly scheduled recipe.

Pour the tofu-cheese mixture onto the pasta and mix in.

Top with the feta and remaining cheddar.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake uncovered for 5 more minutes.

Remove from oven and gloat.

 Add to plate and eat.

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