Have you ever been lured by a bright, alluring or unusual ingredient at the grocery store? You know, like a gleaming cascade of blood-red cherries, a trendy bag of coconut flour, or a knobbly lump of celery root?
As a food blogger, this is something that happens to me quite regularly. Look – it’s a package of organic sunflower sprouts planted by ethically-raised unicorns! I must create a recipe with this right away!
Sometimes, shiny ingredients I snatch off store shelves end up languishing in my fridge or pantry, never to be featured in a recipe. That’s exactly what happened when I spied a box of gluten-free jumbo shells and thought the possibilities of what I could stuff in there were endless.
And that box has been sitting in my pantry for a year, if not two, until last week. (Don’t worry – they were still good. I checked the expiry date.)
As I pulled together this recipe on a whim, I guessed it would either be epic or need to go in the garbage. Thankfully, it was the latter – although I must admit this recipe is really all about the sauce.
Ohmygod. THE SAUCE.
I should have written an entirely separate post extolling the virtues of this three-ingredient gem, but since we ate it all there wasn’t any sauce left to photograph.
I know I’m not the first to create a sauce using cooked cauliflower, but essentially this cauliflower cream sauce rivals my best dang sauce ever. It’s incredibly luxurious, and perfectly mimics a cheesy alfredo sauce.
My husband couldn’t get enough of the sauce, scraping several extra spoonfuls out of the pan onto his plate. And believe me, that is a great endorsement. Tim is the type of guy who will buy those white plastic tubs of alfredo goop at the grocery store when he has a pasta craving.
I absolutely loved the contrast of the savory sauce with the slightly sweet pea filling, though Tim thought it was a little too sweet for his liking. He also complained there was too much dill, but I don’t think there IS such a thing as too much dill so you can ignore that sentiment.
Stuffing the shells is an extra step and I truly understand if you just don’t wanna do it. I needed to use up my shells, but in the future I would toss this sauce with regular gluten-free brown rice pasta or zucchini noodles and call it a day.
The important thing to remember is you MUST make this sauce. Make it now. Go go go!
- ¾ cup cashews, soaked overnight and drained
- 1 small head of cauliflower (about 1 pound), chopped
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup of water, to thin
- 3½ cups frozen green peas
- 1 large handful of baby spinach
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh dill
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ tsp salt
- To make the sauce, steam the chopped cauliflower until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the cashews, cauliflower, salt and ½ cup of the water from steaming the cauliflower to a blender. Mix until smooth, adding an additional tablespoon or two of water if necessary. Set aside.
- To make the filling, steam the frozen peas and spinach until soft, then toss it in a food processor with the olive oil, dill and salt. Blend until smooth. (I suppose you could also pour the cauliflower cream sauce out of the blender and use it to blend the filling and save yourself the washing later). Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
- Cook your brown rice pasta shells until soft. Rinse them with cold water and wait a few minutes until they are cool enough to handle.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spread a generous 1½ cups of sauce in the bottom of a 8 x 8-inch baking dish. Take about a tablespoon or so of filling and shove it into each shell, then nestle the stuffed shell into the sauce. Repeat until the shells are all filled.
- Dollop more cauliflower cream sauce over the shells, then cover tightly and bake for about 20 minutes. Serve hot.