Coastal Current

February 20, 2015

Valley Morning Coastal Current

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22 | Coastal Current | February 20, 2015 coastalcurrent.com • facebook.com/coastalcurrent CURRENTCUISINE By Executive Chef Bettina Tolin Mushroom-Spinach Stuffed Shells 8 servings For the stuffed shells: Kosher salt 8 ounces (20 to 24) jumbo pasta shells Extra-virgin olive oil 1 yellow onion, small diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 12 ounces white mushrooms, sliced thinly 1 10 -ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed very dry 1 1/2 cups low-fat small-curd cottage cheese 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1 large egg, lightly beaten 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil For the tomato sauce: 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced Pinch of red pepper fl akes 1 28 -ounce can crushed tomatoes Kosher salt For the Cheese sauce: 1/4 cup low-fat small-curd cottage cheese 1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese 1 large egg, lightly beaten Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta shells and cook until slightly softened but still fi rm, about 7 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drizzle with olive oil and toss; set aside. The olive oil will keep the shells from sticking to one another. Heat 2 table- spoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring oc- casionally, until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook, without stirring, about 2 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and continue cooking, stirring occa- sionally, until the mushrooms are soft and have released their liquid, about 5 more minutes. Add the spinach and stir until heated through, about 2 minutes. Set aside and let cool completely. Finely chop the spinach-mushroom mix- ture and combine in a bowl with the cottage cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, basil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stuff each shell with about 2 tablespoons of the fi lling; set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. To make the tomato sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, and red pepper fl akes and cook, stirring, until lightly golden, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, then rinse the can with 1 cup water and add to the pan; add salt to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat and then lower to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. To make the cheese sauce: Combine the cottage cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan and egg in the blender and puree until smooth. Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with olive oil and pour in half of the tomato sauce. Add the stuffed shells, and top with the remaining tomato sauce. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 25 minutes; uncover and continue baking until bubbly, 15 to 20 more minutes. Turn on the broiler; drizzle the shells with the cheese sauce and broil, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large platter to serve. Bettina Tolin is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Austin. She has cooked in the kitchens of the Ritz-Carl- ton Amelia Island, Florida. She is currently the Executive Chef and General Manager at Marcello's Italian Restaurant and Bar in Port Isabel. Cooking Slowly on a Sunday Afternoon You may have noticed that many of the recipes I share with you are generally straightforward with a just few steps. With our busy lives these days, we often need dishes we can prepare quickly and easily for our loved ones after a long day at work or school. However, there are times when the journey is better than the destination. And cooking is no exception. If you fi nd yourself with a long quiet day off, like a Sunday, that would be the perfect time to relax in your kitchen and the spend time to prepare this warm and cozy family dinner. No need to rush this dish, just pour yourself a glass of wine, taste your food as you go, and enjoy the journey. Chef's tip: Consider serving these stuffed shells alongside links of hot or mild Italian Sausage (roasted in a 375 degree oven for approximately 25 minutes). Look for this dish as the Friday Night Feature Dinner at Marcello's Italian Restaurant. Bon Appétit! Chef Bettina Authentic Italian, Fresh Seafood & Steaks 1/2 off bottles of wine Tuesday and Wednesday All Day Happy Hour watch sports and relax Best of the Best Italian Restaurants as seen in Spirit Magazine Non-Smoking Restaurant Andrew Minkler Saturday 6-9pm Keith DiSantis Jazz Nights Fri 6-9pm Across from the Lighthouse (956) 943 - 7611 Open 11 am Daily · Rotary meets here Friday at noon Chef Bettina inspired recipes!

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