To accompany the stuffed shells with eggplant, I wanted a salad appropriate for the end of summer and the beginning of fall. Something hearty for the (hopefully) cooler weather to come, that still let something of the warm evenings linger. I opted for this Smoky Romaine and Avocado Salad from Heather Christo, with a few modifications. First, I grilled the lettuce and the avocados for a late summer cookout touch. As a bonus, grilling softens up not-so-ripe avocados. I couldn’t find pepitos, so I added croutons instead for some crunch.
Grilling Romaine Lettuce:
- Get the grill really hot. Hotter than you think. Even hotter than that. You want to quickly char the outside without wilting the rest.
- Spray cooking oil all over the hearts of romaine. Place them on the grill until the outside blackens. Flip and repeat.
- Slice avocados in half and remove the pit.
- Spray cooking oil on the flesh of each avocado half. Place flesh-down onto the grill. Let the flesh get good and seared.
- Remove skins and dice.
Making the Salad:
- 3 head Romaine Hearts – Grilled
- 1 bag butter lettuce
- 4 avocados – Grilled then cubed
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 Bag Herbed Croutons
- 3 clove garlic
- 1 ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3 tablespoons agave
- 9 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 9 tablespoons olive oil
- kosher salt
- Roughly chop the grilled lettuce.
- Toss lettuces, avocado, and shallots together in a large bowl.
- Whisk the Smoky Vinaigrette together in a small bowl and then drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad.
- Sprinkle croutons over the top of the salad. Serve immediately.
(adapted from http://heatherchristo.com/2015/03/03/smoky-romaine-and-avocado-salad/ website)
Stuffed Shells (by Samantha/Patrick)
Garlic Bread (by Louis/Brandy)
Grilled Romaine and Avocado Salad (by Allison)
Hello! This is our first post of the Atlanta Dinner Club, and if you notice the date, we’re working through a backlog of our weekly deliciousness but will soon be posting regularly every week. As I type this, my stomach is grumbling in anticipation of Mushroom Bourguignon this evening – but we’ll save that for a different post!
Here is our Stuffed Shells recipe:
(adapted from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/4-cheese-stuffed-shells-recipe.html website)
1 box of Barilla large shells
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 head garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
3 tsp dried thyme
1 lb. hot Italian sausage
2 medium-sized Japanese eggplants, cubed
1 pkg. cream cheese, cubed
48 oz bottled Arrabbiata or other spicy tomato sauce
32 oz container of whole milk ricotta cheese
5 oz. shredded parmesan cheese
1.5 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 pkg. fresh basil, finely chopped
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Olive oil cooking spray
Additional part-skim mozzarella cheese for topping in the oven
To make the shells:
- Bring a large pot of water to boil with some salt added.
- Add shells to boiling water and cook for 15 minutes.
- Drain well, mix with a bit of olive oil, and allow to cool before stuffing.
To make the tomato sauce:
- Heat olive oil in a medium-sized pot.
- Add chopped garlic and onions and cook until onions are just translucent.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine: granulated garlic, garlic salt, onion powder, basil, oregano, and thyme. Add this spice mixture to the translucent onion mixture and stir well to combine.
- Add cubed eggplant and mix.
- Add sausage and break apart the meat into bite-sized pieces or smaller as it cooks in the pot. Stir until the meat is almost cooked through.
- Add the cream cheese and allow to heat and melt into the meat and onion mixture.
- Add Arrabbiata or other spicy tomato sauce and boil for 10 minutes, stirring often.
- Turn off the heat and stir in chopped fresh basil.
To make the cheese mixture:
- Mix thoroughly together ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, basil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and ensure proper incorporation of all ingredients.
- Add additional salt and pepper to taste if necessary (ricotta usually needs quite a bit of seasoning).
To make baked stuffed shells in ramekins:
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Spray edges of the ramekin with olive oil cooking spray.
- Fill 3 cooked shells with ~1 tsp (regular little spoon) of cheese mixture and place them in the ramekin.
- Add 3 tablespoons of sauce on top of the shells.
- Add part-skim mozzarella cheese as a topping on top of the sauce.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Be careful! It will be hot!