Welcome everybody to the March edition of the Crazy Ingredient Challenge! If you are a first time visitor to the Crazy Ingredient Challenge, you are in for some fun creativity! The challenge is to create a recipe with two truly unique ingredients that are not traditionally cooked together.I just love this challenge! Spearheaded by the lovely Dawn at Spatula’s On Parade, this is one group of talented chef’s who come up with these recipes each month. Want to know what March’s challenge is? Cheese & Cauliflower.
Now, cheese & cauliflower are often found together. I didn’t find this one to be as “crazy” as some of the combinations in the past. I’ve made cheesy cauliflower for hubby before and have a recipe for cauliflower Mac N Cheese. I decided right from the get go I was not going to use Cheddar cheese. I wanted to step out on a limb here and try something different.
I went with pasta again this month, but did not make my own from scratch. I wanted to do a stuffed shell and unfortunately, my KitchenAid doesn’t have that attachment. Probably because it does not exist. Yet. For my cheese I chose ricotta, gouda and two types of parmesan; grated and shredded. As for the cauliflower? I made a heavenly “alfredo” that does not weigh you down or make you feel guilty. But, my Two Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Shells have all the comfort of traditional alfredo sauce.
Two Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Shells with Cauliflower Alfredo
- 15 Jumbo Pasta Shells (cooked according to package directions)
- 1 1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach (thawed with liquid squeezed out)
- 8oz part skim ricotta cheese
- 5oz smoked gouda cheese (crumbled)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- 8oz frozen cauliflower florets
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 cloves garlic (crushed)
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cups milk
- shredded parmesan cheese (for topping)
For nutrition information and points values, click the Magic Button
At first I was going to put the cauliflower in the shells along with the spinach and ricotta then top it with a sauce made with the gouda cheese. As I finally started to put it on paper, completely flipped the cauliflower to the sauce. Hubby as usual was skeptical, especially when I said I was making an alfredo with the cauliflower. I know cauliflower can blend up nice and creamy and it did just that. A little milk, grated parmesan, a few cloves of garlic and other ingredients made one fantastic sauce. And the smokiness of the gouda cheese really added something to the shells.
One tip for when you’re making stuffed shells, manicotti or other tubed pasta; use a pastry bag to help stuff them. I filled one with the spinach mix then cut a hole in the tip (no decorative tips needed for this). It made filling the shells so easy and there was no mess. It’s totally worth it to have a set of pastry bags in your kitchen. They’re not just for cakes and cupcake decorating, but work for cheese & spinach stuffed shells too!
To see past challenges and the creative recipes our chefs have come up with, click on over to my Crazy Ingredient Challenge Pinboard and look around. These ladies are amazing!!!