A great method to give a variety of foods a crunchy and pleasant texture is by air frying pasta.
In collaboration with Yumna Jawad of Feel Good Foodie, we created Walnut Stuffed Pasta Shells, a tasty vegan adaptation of an Italian-inspired meal. Pasta shells filled with walnut “meat” incorporate traditional Mediterranean ingredients like mozzarella and tomato with a distinctive walnut meat mixture that is flavored with a subtle Japanese spice blend. The best part is that it just takes 60 minutes or less to make these cheesy, delicious stuffed shells!
Here’s what you’ll need for the stuffed shells:
|12 ounces jumbo pasta shells|
|1 1/2 cups California walnuts|
|1 small onion, chopped|
|2 garlic cloves|
|1 tablespoon olive oil|
|1/4 cup tomato paste|
|1 teaspoon Japanese 7 spice blend|
|1/2 teaspoon dried oregano|
|1/2 teaspoon salt|
|1/4 teaspoon pepper (optional)|
|1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese|
Follow these simple steps for a satisfying, plant-based meal overflowing with rich flavors.
Boiling the Shells
Start by bringing a pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the pasta shells and cook until al dente according to package instructions. Drain and rinse the shells under cold water, draining well before setting them aside.
Making the Walnut Meat
Place walnuts in a food processor and process until they’re roughly chopped. Add onion and garlic and pulse until the mixture is evenly ground and resembles ground meat with some small pieces of walnuts and onion visible.
Cooking the Walnut Meat
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add walnut meat and cook for 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, 7 spice seasoning, oregano, salt and pepper and continue cooking for 10 minutes more or until the mixture deepens in color, stirring frequently.
Stuffing the Shells
Fill cooked pasta shells evenly with the walnut meat mixture. Add a tablespoon of mozzarella to each shell before covering it with a second shell, rounded side up, to enclose filling.
Air Frying the Stuffed Shells
Cooking in batches, coat on all sides with cooking spray and place in an air fryer, making sure not to overlap them. Air fry at 400°F for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the shells are golden brown and crisp.
Don’t forget the finishing touches! Serve the stuffed shells with some marinara sauce on the side and top with snipped fresh basil for taste.
Spruce Up Mealtime with Some Bold Flavors
For a distinctive blend of Mediterranean and Asian-inspired flavors, this quick and simple recipe mixes the acidity of tomato paste with the tanginess of mozzarella and the complex flavor profile of Japanese spices. To avoid eating meat at every meal and to cut down on preparation time, including this plant-based dish in your regular menu. These stuffed pasta shells can be the main course of your dinner, an appetizer to satisfy the appetites of your dinner guests, or a fun midweek treat for the kids (and you!). Consider creating an extra batch of walnut meat to replace other ingredients in your favorite family dishes!