Pesto & Ricotta Stuffed Shells

As the weather starts turning cooler, we find that we start craving warm and hearty meals. One of our favorite family meals is stuffed shells. There are so many different ways to customize a stuffed shells recipe; you can incorporate the protein of your choice or add vegetables to get your greens in. For this version, we have chosen to incorporate ground beef, pesto and ricotta. We love the flavor combination of pesto and ricotta. The pesto brings in an herby freshness and the ricotta adds creaminess and unctuousness to the dish. This recipe can be prepared in advance and baked just as your family or friends come over for dinner. Serve this with our Kale Salad: Autumn Edition and you have balanced, full dinner.

Pesto and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Makes: 8 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients for the Sauce:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup parsley, minced
  • 2, 28oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tbs salt

Ingredients for the Shells:

  • 1 package jumbo pasta shells
  • 3 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup basil, minced
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Make the sauce. In a large pot, sauté the ground beef until it is cooked through. Set aside in a bowl but do not drain the fat. Add the garlic and parsley and saute in the beef fat for a few minutes. Add the tomato sauce, water and salt and bring to a simmer. Add the beef back into the sauce and keep on simmer, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes.
  2. While the sauce is simmering, cook your shells according to package directions. When the shells are cooked to al dente, rinse them with cold water. You will want them to be cooled before stuff them.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350.
  4. Create the filling. Combine the ricotta, pesto, egg, basil and Parmesan cheese in a bowl and mix to thoroughly combine. Season with salt and pepper. Put the mixture in a large Ziploc bag and cut the tip off the corner of the bag. Use the bag to pipe the mixture into each shell.
  5. Coat the bottom of a large baking dish with a layer of the sauce. Add the stuffed shells on top of the sauce in an even layer. Fill the rest of the dish with the sauce and top with the mozzarella. Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the cheese is fully melted and bubbly.

Eggplant Caprese Salad

It has been a labor of love, but we are finally getting eggplant to grow in our garden! We love to cook this seasonal veggie by lightly seasoning it and grilling it. This version of eggplant is served in a caprese salad and pairs perfectly with the tomato and mozzarella cheese. This is an easy and delicious way to mix up a classic and makes for a hearty salad recipe. You can serve for the salad for lunch, as an appetizer, or a side dish for an Italian-inspired dinner. 

Eggplant Caprese Salad
Makes: 8 servings 
Prep Time: 15 minutes     Total Time: 15 minutes 

Ingredients For The Salad:

  • 1 eggplant slices in 1/4 inch rounds
  • 2 tbs olive oil 
  • 3 beefsteak tomatoes cut in 1/4 inch rounds 
  • 1 log of fresh mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • basil
  • salt 

Ingredients For The Dressing:

  • 1/2 balsamic vinaigrette 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper 

Directions 

  1. After slicing the eggplant, sprinkle salt on both sides of the pieces and set on paper towel for 15 minutes. This will help remove some of the excess moisture from the eggplant before you grill. 
  2. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat, about 450 degrees. 
  3. Drizzle olive oil over both sides of the eggplant and grill the slices on high for 2-3 minutes on each side so that the pieces are lightly charred and cooked through. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Prepare the dressing by whisking all of the ingredients together in a bowl. 
  5. Assemble the caprese by layering the eggplant, tomato and mozzarella across a long serving dish. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and top with fresh basil. Serve immediately. 

Tomato, Proscuitto, & Ricotta Bruschetta

A few months back we posted a recipe for how to make tomato confit, and we have been making it regularly ever since. The tomatoes can last up to four weeks in the refrigerator – just make sure they are completely cooled before they are sealed into a container. The tomatoes can also be frozen and used in recipes like our Angel Hair with Burrata & Tomatoes. We love to mix and match how we use them, and for this rendition we are using them as a bruschetta condiment. We love the combination of the sweet and herby tomatoes, the salty prosciutto, and the creamy whipped ricotta. You can serve this as an appetizer on baguette – we like to have everything separate on a board and let people assemble themselves- or use larger slices of bread for brunch or a light dinner. 

Tomato, Prosciutto, & Ricotta Bruschetta 
Makes: 16 appetizer pieces 
Prep Time: 1 hour if preparing the tomato confit    Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 3/4 recipe for tomato confit (you want to use 1 1/2 lbs of tomatoes)
  • 1 baguette, sliced on a bias into 16 slices 
  • 1/3 cup olive oil 
  • 1 container ricotta cheese (approx. 16 oz) 
  • 1/2 lb thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into bite-sized pieces 
  • 1 container of basil leaves, stems removed and roughly chopped 
  • balsamic glaze, for garnish 
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Directions: 

  1. Prepare the tomato confit as instructed in the link above. Set aside and let the tomatoes cool to room temperature. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  3. Slice the baguette and drizzle the olive oil over top of the slices. Toss to coat on both sides and season with salt and pepper. Lay in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until they are crispy. 
  4. Use a hand mixer to whip the ricotta on medium-high speed for at least two full minutes. You can use a whisk for this and do it by hand if you want a workout, but it will take a few more minutes. The ricotta should be light and fluffy and a visibly different texture than it was in the container. 
  5. Assemble the bruschetta by layering a spoonful of ricotta onto the bottom of the toast. Top with 2-3 tomatoes, a few pieces of prosciutto, and basil. Drizzle with a bit of balsamic glaze and serve immediately. 

Semi-Homemade Pesto Caprese Salad

This salad qualifies as a “mostly homemade” recipe instead of semi-homemade recipe, it is that easy. Who says cooking needs to be hard?! Simple is the theme with this salad and boy is it delicious. With just a little chopping and mixing  you can have a healthy, nutritious, and tasty salad within 15 minutes. We love this recipe for a quick workday lunch with chicken but this it easily be altered to be an appetizer or side dish by removing the protein. Like all of our recipes, mix and match ingredients that you have on hand to make this recipe work for you. 

Semi-Homemade Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad  
Makes: 4 side dish servings; 2 main course servings 
Prep Time: 10 minutes    Total Time: 15 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 English cucumber 
  • 1 package of grape tomatoes 
  • 1 package Ciliegine mozzarella (small mozzarella balls)
  • 4 tbs pesto 
  • 1 rotisserie chicken or package of  pre-cooked chicken, optional 
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  1. Chop the cucumber and half the grape tomatoes and place in a bowl. 
  2. Add the mozzarella (be sure to drain) and pesto in a bowl. Gently mix until the pesto is evenly distributed among the ingredients, without wrecking the tomatoes. 
  3. Top with the chicken (if using) and season with salt and pepper to taste. That’s it. So simple, so easy, and so good! 

Fig, Bleu Cheese, & Walnut Salad

We were recently at Whole Foods and so excited because we found fresh figs for the first time in a while! We used dried figs in our Bruschetta Board that we posted last week and still had them on the brain when it came to making a menu this week! Sometimes simple is best, and this salad is just that. High quality ingredients with a simple vinaigrette and boom, we have a beautiful salad that pairs well with most menus this summer. 

Fig, Walnut, & Blue Cheese Salad 
Makes: 4 appetizer servings 
Prep Time: 10 minutes    Total Time: 15 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 6 cups arugula 
  • 8 fresh figs, stems removed and cut in half 
  • 1 wedge good quality blue cheese- if you hate blue cheese like Tate’s mom, goat works well too 
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts 
  • 2 tsp butter 
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Ingredients For Dressing: 

  • ⅓ cup olive oil 
  • 1 tbs dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs balsamic glaze or 2 tbs balsamic vinegar 
  • 2 tsp honey 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  1. Make the dressing by whisking the dressing ingredients (olive oil through garlic) in a small mixing bowl. If you want a really creamy texture to your dressing, you can make this in a blender, otherwise, whisk until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside. 
  2. Heat a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the walnuts and toast them until they become fragrant- about 4 minutes. Remove them from the pan and season well with salt. 
  3. In the same pan, heat the butter until it becomes bubbly. Add the figs cut side down and let them caramelize for a few minutes. This helps bring out their sweetness and gives them a little crust. 
  4. Assemble the salad by layering the arugula, figs, walnuts, and blue cheese. Drizzle the dressing over top and season with a good amount of black pepper. 

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

We love mac & cheese more than most things in life. It’s our favorite accompaniment for any bbq menu and most family gatherings. In the spirit of keeping ourselves “bikini ready” this summer, we wanted to create our version of a healthier mac & cheese recipe. Our goal was to create an alternative that is healthier than most recipes without sacrificing taste. 

To do this we used cauliflower as the base of our cheese sauce! It might sound like an odd choice, but steamed cauliflower is a delicious, mostly neutral, creamy base and often used for similar vegan recipes. Our mac is hardly vegan, and to help cut having a strong cauliflower taste, we used sharp white cheddar and gruyere to cheese up our macaroni. We chose to steam the cauliflower to preserve most of the vegetable’s nutrients, but you can save some time by boiling the cauliflower or buying frozen cauliflower florets. As long as the cauliflower is fork-tender, it is ready to be made into sauce. The results are pretty darn excellent and we don’t feel bad about digging in all summer long! 

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese 
Makes: 8 servings 
Prep Time: 40 minutes     Total Time: 60 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 lb pasta 
  • 1 large head cauliflower 
  • 12 oz milk or vegetable stock 
  • 2 tbs butter 
  • 1 tsp garlic powder 
  • 1/4 tsp ground mustard 
  • 6 oz block sharp white cheddar cheese, grated 
  • 6 oz block Gruyere cheese, grated 
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Remove the leaves and excess stem from the cauliflower. Chop the cauliflower into medium-sized florets. Fill a large steamer pot with about 2 inches of water and heat on high. Put the cauliflower florets into the steamer basket, cover, and cook the cauliflower for 20-30 minutes, or until the cauliflower can easily be pierced with a fork. 
  3. While the cauliflower is steaming, heat a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions, about 10 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside. 
  4. When the cauliflower is fork-tender, remove it from the steamer and place it directly into a large food processor or blender. Pulse the cauliflower so that it starts to break down. Add the liquid- the milk or vegetable stock- to the blender 1/4 cup at a time, until the cauliflower forms a thick and smooth sauce. Reserve any extra liquid that you did not use in case you need to thin the sauce after adding the cheese. 
  5. Heat the pot you used to cook the pasta over medium heat. Add the butter to the pot and give it a quick stir until it is melted. Add the cauliflower puree, garlic powder, and ground mustard to the pot and stir. Add about 3/4 of each of the cheeses to the cauliflower and continue to stir until the cheese is completely melted. If at any point you think the sauce is too thick, add more of the liquid to the sauce. When the sauce is completely melted and has a thick but smooth texture, give it a taste and season it with salt and pepper. 
  6. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir thoroughly to combine. Spray a large pyrex baking dish with cooking spray and transfer the mac and cheese from the pasta pot to the pyrex. Use a spatula to spread the mac and cheese into an even layer in the dish and top with the remaining cheeses. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly, before serving. 

Juicy Lucy Burgers

We were challenged by our good friend Allison at Sweet Then Savory to create a burger recipe in honor of National Burger Month – YAY FOR MAY! We love burgers and dining outside during these warmer nights and jumped on board for this challenge immediately. We decided for a more classic route on this burger but amped up our cheese game by making our burger a Juicy Lucy.  For those unfamiliar, a Juicy Lucy is a popular burger that was invented in Minnesota where the cheese is stuffed inside the burger. If you haven’t tried any of our recipes yet, this one is not to be missed. It is indulgent, juicy and the ultimate way to kick off summer. 

Juicy Lucy Burgers  
Makes: 4, 1/2 pound burgers
Prep Time: 10 minutes  Total Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients For the Burgers : 

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 tsp salt 
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 8 oz block of cheddar cheese 

Additional Burger Toppings:

  • 4 hamburger buns 
  • Red onion, sliced 
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Tomatoes on the vine, sliced 
  • Ketchup, mustard, and any other condiments of your choice 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat your grill to high heat (about 500 degrees). 
  2. Combine the ground beef, salt and pepper into a large mixing bowl. Using your hands (or a spoon if you are grossed out), blend the meat and seasonings together so the salt and pepper are mixed evenly through the mixture. Separate the meat into 4 evenly sized patties.
  3. Cut the cheese block in half and then quarter one half of the block so that you have 4 cubes of cheese. Form each burger patty with one cube of cheese in the center of the patty. 
  4. Once the grill is hot, add the burgers. Cook 4-5 minutes on each side for medium-rare. After you flip the burger to cook on the other side, top with an additional slice of cheese during the last minute so it gets nice and melty.
  5. Add red onion, romaine lettuce, tomato, ketchup and anything else your burger craving needs. Put in all in a bun and enjoy.

Beet & Blood Orange Salad

To celebrate the upcoming baseball season, and Tuck’s departure to Florida for Spring Training, Tuck and Tate’s parents went to a going away dinner at Jovanina’s Broken Italian in downtown Denver. In true Tuck & Tate fashion, we consumed almost everything on the menu and cannot rave about our dinner enough. From bone marrow to parmesan souffle, wood fired pizzas to fresh burrata and charcuterie…. we ate it all. Of everything we consumed, one of the dishes that stuck out the most was the beet salad. Roasted beets, blood oranges, and a layer of creamy ricotta… it was perfect. So perfect that we had to recreate it as soon as possible.  

A quick note about the length of time designated for this recipe. The amount of time necessary to make it relies entirely on how you plan to cook the beets. We have roasted them in the oven, which is easy but can take quite a long time. If you have an Instant Pot or any sort of pressure cooker, you can reduce 15+ minutes from our suggested time. If you want to skip cooking the beets all together and just buy pre-cooked beets from the salad section of your grocery store, reduce the total time down to 20 minutes. If you do buy precooked beets, try to avoid anything packed with other flavors. This salad has a delicate flavor profile and you won’t want the beets to overrun or clash with the other ingredients. 

Beet & Blood Orange Salad 
Makes: 4 servings 
Prep Time: 30 min     Total Time: 1 hour 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 large beets (we chose one yellow and one red for color variation) 
  • 1 blood orange 
  • 3/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese 
  • 2 tbs honey or agave 
  • 1/3 cup roasted and salted pistachios 
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbs olive oil 
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Prepare the beets by trimming off the stems and leaves and peeling them with a vegetable peeler. If you have kitchen gloves use them to avoid staining your hands. Once the beets are trimmed and peeled, cut them into large, bite sized pieces. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Lay the beets in a single layer on the foil, drizzle them with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Cook in the oven for 35 – 40 minutes, or until they are tender with a fork. 
  3. While the beets are cooking, prepare the ricotta. In a small mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, honey, and the zest from the blood orange. Whisk really well, until the ricotta is light and fluffy in texture. Season with a pinch of salt and set aside. 
  4. Remove the peel from the blood orange using a knife to remove the peel and pith from the orange. For an instructional video, click here. Cut the orange horizontally and set aside. 
  5. Make a quick dressing by combining the olive oil and the juice of a few of the blood orange slices. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  6. Assemble the salad by layering the ricotta on the bottom of the plate, followed by the beets and blood oranges. Top with the pistachios and drizzle the dressing over top. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Serve immediately. 

Spaghetti Squash Enchiladas

A few weeks ago we asked our Instagram followers what kind of recipes they were looking to see in the new year. A few of you asked for recipes with spaghetti squash. Ask and you will receive! Spaghetti squash is a great substitute vegetable if you are looking to eat less carbohydrates. Instead of thinking of spaghetti squash as simply a substitute for pasta, we like to think of it as a base for any casserole-type entree. Insert this recipe for spaghetti squash enchiladas. Everything you love about baked enchiladas but without the tortillas, which are really just the vessel for delivery anyway. We make dinners like this on repeat when we are trying to cut the carbs back and also stay full after dinner. 

Spaghetti Squash Enchiladas 
Makes: 4 servings 
Prep Time: 30 minutes    Cooking Time: 30 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 small spaghetti squash, cut in half and seeds removed 
  • 3 tbs olive oil 
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 lb ground beef or ground turkey 
  • 1/2 packet taco seasoning 
  • 1- 15.5 oz can red kidney beans 
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced 
  • 1- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with their juice 
  • 1- 10 oz can enchilada sauce 
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1 cup + shredded cheddar cheese 
  • cilantro, for garnish 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Place the spaghetti squash halves on a cookie sheet (or two if they don’t all fit). Drizzle the insides with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Cover the squash with foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. The squash are done when they are tender enough that you can easily scrape the insides with a fork to make “spaghetti”. 
  3. While the squash is cooking, start making the enchilada mix. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add a drizzle of oil to the pan and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 3-4 minutes, or until the onions start to become translucent. Add the ground beef and taco seasoning to the pan and cook until mostly cooked though, another 6 minutes or so. 
  4. Add the kidney beans, bell peppers, diced tomatoes, and enchilada sauce to the pot. Stir well, cover, and cook on a low simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
  5. When the enchiladas have finished cooking, remove them from the oven. Use a fork to gently scrape up some of the squash, creating a bed of spaghetti in each individual squash. Use a ladle to divide the enchilada filling into each of the four squash halves. Top with shredded cheese and place back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
  6. Serve hot, topped with cilantro if desired. 


Pate & Cheese Board

We hope everyone has had a nice recovery from the Super Bowl this weekend! While February seems like a low key month after the holidays, we have a marathon of events including the Super Bowl, The Academy Awards, and Valentine’s Day all happening within weeks of each other. In contrast to our punny Golden Globes Menu, we have created some simple, yet elegant, small bites for the Academy Awards. If you have been following us at Tuck & Tate, you know we love a good cheese board. They are so easy to assemble and always a crowd pleaser. To up our game for the Academy Awards we have included pate, charcuterie, and all the appropriate accompaniments.

Pate & Cheese Board
Makes: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 lb prosciutto, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 lb soppressata, thinly sliced
  • 1 package pate (we used a peppered pork pate)
  • 1 wedge blue cheese
  • 1 wedge goat cheese, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup castelvetrano olives
  • 1 small jar Dijon mustard
  • 1 small jar fig preserves or honey
  • 1 green apple, thinly sliced
  • various thick crackers or toast, for assembling small bites

Directions:

  1. Assemble the ingredients on a medium-sized cutting board or serving platter. Be sure to include small spreading knives, forks, and spoons for each item, as needed.