Tuesday, December 1, 2009

PASTA - Turkey, Artichoke, Spinach, Feta STUFFED SHELLS ~ Thanksgiving Leftovers

I feel like I am writing one of those, "What I did on my summer vacation" essays from grade school. Instead, it's a, "What I did with my turkey leftovers" blog post. The more things change, the more they stay the same. On my summer (November/pre-Thanksgiving) vacation, I saw the Grand Canyon, visited Sonoma, AZ and ate my mothers famous (horrible) boiled chicken.

But here's some of what I did with my leftover Turkey...

I love bloggers! The dedication to lay it all out there on a daily/weekly/sometimes basis astounds me. And most importantly, I get access to talented folks who provide wonderful recipes with photos and instructions that can walk me through making something out of my comfort zone... Pasta is one of those "out of my comfort zone" items. Not that I am afraid of it, I simply do not make it much. And when I say much, I mean if it is not spaghetti with sauce in a jar, I mean never.

But, in mid-October, Karine at the FOOD GOURMAND (one of those lovable Canadians that celebrate Thanksgiving before the more bourgeois Americans) posted a left over turkey recipe for her TURKEY, ARTICHOKE, SPINACH, FEAT, STUFFED SHELLS. I put this in my file of things I wanted to try with my left over turkey... And I did...

Here's what she did (Click HERE to get to her post, with her more educated details)...


    ***For the Sauce**
  • 1300 mL tomato sauce
  • 200 mL fresh basil, chopped

    ***For the Filling***
  • 250 mL provolone, shredded
  • 250 mL feta, chopped
  • 125 mL cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 284g baby spinach, cooked your favorite way
  • 300 mL marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 600 mL turkey, chopped
  • 2 garlic gloves, minced
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

  • 250 g jumbo shells
1. Preheat the oven at 375 degrees.

2. Cook shells in boiling salted water and then drain.

3. Mix the tomato sauce and the basil in a large saucepan.

4. Bring to a boil over medium heat and let simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile,
5. Combine the stuffing ingredients in a large bowl.

6. Spoon about 250 mL of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 13 X 9 inch greased baking pan.

7. Spoon or pipe the stuffing into the shells.

8. Place the shells over the tomato sauce in the baking pan.

9. Spoon the remaining tomato sauce over the shells. 10. Bake for about 25 minutes.

And, HERE is what I did (just a few minor changes)...

First, as always, assemble your ingredients...

Get ready for this, I am going to show off... It's called Mise en place (pronounced meez-on-plahs in French, but you need to add a little air of superiority in your voice when you say it in French to get the pronunciation exactly right). It literally means, "Set in place". It gets everything you need for the recipe in one place, it guarantees prior to your starting that you have all the ingredients you need, and it is a safety net. When I cook, I use an ingredient, move the "used" item to a different counter. When I am ready to put in the oven, I can tell from the empty counter that I have used all the ingredients. It also helps to assemble all the pots, pans, stirring sticks, measuring cups needed so you do not have to hunt them done when your hands are goopy (say "goopy" with that same snooty French accent.. It's fun)

Finally, I started on the sauce...

I did add a little garlic to the sauce because... Well, because I like garlic. At some point, I need to learn to make pasta sauce (my buddy Mario Russomano (ya think he's Italian?) claims that in Italian-American households, they call tomato sauce, "gravy"... I always wondered if that was true)...

But I digress... Back to the sauce, I found the canned tomato sauce that I used was a little thin. So, I added a small can of tomato paste to thicken it up.

I am sorry I do not have more photos, but I did not take any of the stuffing. I also did not take a photo of the shells being cooked... But, just imagine a box of shells being cooked, and you know what they look like. The stuffing was very easy to assemble... just dump everything into the Kitchenaid mixer and mix. It was a mess to stuff though. I do not have "piping equipment". I tried to be neat and use a spoon, but I found the easiest way was to just dig in and use your hands.

In addition to the extra garlic I added in the sauce, I also added some more provolone cheese on the top. I did this because... well, you know why, I LIKE PROVOLONE CHEESE!

So, into the oven as directed, play a quick turbo round of sit and go poker on-line (I won), and fast as you can say, "Bob's your uncle", it was done! My first "real" pasta meal... and, thanks to Karine at the FOOD GOURMAND, it was a huge success!

Three shells were plenty for dinner, very filling. I also served this with a small spinach salad. I have lots of leftovers to eat during the week, and to send with my wife for her to eat during lunch at her inconvenient day job. But, retired old me, I have to think about, write about, proofread about and edit photos about these. I am doing this first thing in the morning. I am trying to drop a few pounds (or at least maintain my current too high weight) during the holiday season. One of the ways I do that is to have a fruit smoothie for breakfast... I have a dish full of this stuff in my fridge, I have a dish full of this stuff in my mind; but I am going to go puree a banana and some strawberries, add some yogurt and milk... Which would you rather have???

Oh woe is me.

And finally, A note to Kat has who left a comment on my post "GRILLED (finally) BACON WRAPPED SHRIMP and Great C..." yesterday...

Thank you so much, make all the suggestions you want, never offense taken... You said I could take it or leave it... I took it... any better today (baby steps)?


  1. Well, heck, I thought I deleted my judgemental comment after I thought better of it before you or anyone else could read it! The stuffed shells look divine (on the white plate!) Nice to see you getting out of your zone (grill!) Although, the whole reason I started following you was for the grill education. I admire your Jackie for letting you take photos of her in PJ's!!
    Thanks for being a trooper about my comment.

  2. A hearty pasta sauce works with darn near any meat or seafood..It tends to be the dominant flavor- I like it!

  3. Stuffed anything is good (haha..mind in the gutter here)...but honestly - the shells look great!

  4. This looks delish, Dave; a great anytime meal and perfect for company too! My family loves pasta, so I've bookmarked this one. Thanks!

  5. These look delicious. Nice idea to use feta cheese in the stuffing. I loved stuffed pasta shells. Still do, but must abstain. *sigh*

  6. You obviously do very well out of your comfort zone, as your pasta and breads have all looked delicious. I think I'd like to try this with a white sauce and maybe put sun-dried tomatoes in the stuffing instead of using the red sauce. It's amazing how one recipe will start the imagination running.

  7. Man, I wish I had a bunch of turkey leftovers. The shells look great! I don't get stuffed shells much, my girlfriend doesn't want anything to do with them.

  8. Ah ha! a fellow retiree I knew it! That sounds pretty dang good, I am a bit afraid of pasta myself

  9. I will cook for you for no less than $2 a day! :D

    Your stuff shells look great, and I didn't know Italians called pasta sauce gravy until I met my Italian husband!

    Quick hint - I don't have any special piping equipment either. When I need to frost something or stuff something, I put it in a large ziploc bag, then cut one corner off - just make the cut the size that you want - works like a charm and you throw the bag out when you are done! :D

  10. I am glad you loved my recipe! I also love your modifications :)

    By the way, my mother tongue is French and yes, I can say mise en place probably more easily than superiority lolol :P

  11. In the biz, we just say "meez"! ;)

    I wish I got turkey leftovers, but since we always go to relatives' for our big feasts, I never get any...

  12. Dave, these sound very very good! I think I have all the ingredients to do this. It would be a welcomed changed after all the traditional turkey festivities!

  13. I love the idea of the artichoke hearts! I'll have to include that in mine next time. they look great

  14. This recipe looks fab, especially with the artichokes and feta. My turkey was completely gone by the day after Thanksgiving, at noon! But then, again, didn't you cook 3 turkeys? But it sounds like it would be great, even without the turkey. Thanks, for sharing, cher!

  15. Cool idea…it has never occurred to me to incorporate pasta in with the turkey leftovers. No wait, I just lied….I have made turkey tetrazzini in the past (long ago). I like the combo of flavors you have here – artichoke, feta, garlic…I’m drooling!

  16. This is definitely an awesome use of leftovers. And you should NEVER be scared of pasta! It tastes good any way you cook it. Seriously. I have never had a truly bad pasta dish.

    I like your mise en place idea. I am always leaving out ingredients and this is a surefire way to avoid that.

    I wouldn't be able to resist this. I would be sitting there with a fork, eating it for breakfast. Screw the smoothie.

  17. Love this. I also like the idea of moving used items to another counter. That happened to me with my Pumpkin Pie. I couldn't remember if I had put the ginger in. It got added twice, so I had a ginger-ie pie. Thanks Dave

  18. This looks delicious! What a nice change of pace from Turkey Pot Pie and other leftover turkey recipes. Good call!

  19. You are the king of re-working turkey :) I like stuffed shells, they are the best although a bit sleep inducing after consumption.

  20. This is the perfect way to use leftovers! So comforting and delicious. I love feta cheese in the shells too!