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Tag: gluten-free pasta dinner

Stuffed Chicken Enchilada Shells

Faced with the remnants from a pair of delicious roasted chickens recently, I decided to create an Italian-Mexican fusion meal with pasta shells, goat cheese, and that secret ingredient: enchilada sauce.

We lo-o-ove enchilada sauce!

It was surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, tasty and my children have clamored for it several times since.

I had been so excited to find these Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta Grand Shells recently, although you can certainly use regular wheat pasta shells. For this dish the important factor is the shape of the shells, what the Italians call conchiglioni, or large conch shells.

When I was a senior in college, one of my friends used to whip together huge Friday night pasta meals for a packed house of hungry kids. She and I actually both lived in Italy during the same time period but really became friends after we returned and would hang out speaking Italian and drinking lots of Chianti.

One Friday night I remember she mixed together a big bowl of ricotta cheese, mozzarella, garlic, oregano, and who knows what else, and proceeded to direct a team of us toward stuffing it into oversize cooked pasta shells. The stuffed shells then lined a baking pan before being drenched with marinara sauce and topped with more shredded mozzarella. It seemed like a feast.

So I had purchased these shells with something similar in mind only I didn’t know what yet. The leftover chicken meat and shreds from the carcass seemed like a good fit. From a run to the farmer’s market I added corn sliced off the cob (4 ears) and a large green chile (which I roasted over the stove burner, then peeled and seeded).

From the fridge I pulled out leftovers of 8 stalks of steamed asparagus and cut them into 1″ lengths. To finish off the stuffing I shredded two kinds of goat cheese: cheddar and mozzarella. Of course, you can easily use cheeses made from cow’s milk — we find goat’s milk cheeses easier to digest in our house and love the harder styles that taste just like recognizable flavors like cheddar, Monterey jack, and mozzarella.

I put all of this into a big bowl and mixed it together.

Meanwhile, I had been boiling the shells in salted water. When they were on the firmer side of tender, I drained and rinsed them well.

Into a glass baking dish, I poured a few tablespoons of prepared enchilada sauce and painted it across the base and up the sides. I used another tablespoon to ladle stuffing into each pasta shell before placing it snugly into the baking dish.

When the layer of shells was complete I poured enough enchilada sauce on top to cover all of the shells, and sprinkled them with more shedded goat cheese. I put the dish into the oven (I actually used a toaster oven to cook outside on the porch this hot summer night!) at 325 degrees F until the sauce was bubbling and the cheeses had melted.

You should feel free to stuff shells with whatever you have on hand and make your own Italian-fusion cuisine!

Quick and Easy Gluten-free Dinner from Leftovers

Last weekend we grilled wild-caught Alaskan salmon on a cedar plank alongside some asparagus rubbed with olive oil. As scrumptious as it all was, we still had some leftover the next day for me to incorporate into another dinner. I decided to incorporate the leftovers into a pasta salad and make it all new again.

I boiled some fusilli pasta (we used Tinkyada rice pasta because our house is mostly wheat-free due to my son’s food sensitivities, but you can use any kind of pasta you prefer). When it was al dente tender, I drained and rinsed it with cold water in a colander.

Meanwhile, I had washed and chopped a bunch of fresh spinach that was waiting in a large bowl. Into the bowl, I also added the remainder of the cedar-planked salmon and grilled asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces. I dumped the still-warm pasta on top and covered it all with a pot lid so that the spinach would wilt a bit.

I shredded some fresh basil leaves from the plant in my garden and chopped up the last few mushrooms left from earlier in the week.

As a crowning ingredient, my daughter suggested we toss in about 1/2 cup of shelled pistacio nuts. Why not, I thought. We dumped the nuts in.

Now it was the moment of truth: what should we flavor our pasta salad with? I like to use a vinaigrette with a pasta salad, but should it be Italian, Pomegranate Chipolte, Roasted Red Pepper, or Shitake-Sesame? Annie’s Natural Shitake- & Sesame Vinaigrette, always a crowd pleaser, won the vote.

I poured it on and tossed it up. The spinach had wilted nicely from the heat of the pasta, and everything married together beautifully. The pistacio nuts turned out to be the surprise favorite – a nice touch of crunch to the salad!

My 7-year old son has decided of late that he doesn’t “like leftovers,” regardless of how eagerly he cleaned the plate of the same food a day or two before. Luckily, a pasta salad can be a great way to incorporate leftovers and not call them “leftovers” anymore! Here’s another fun pasta salad recipe to try!