If you’re a fan of Mediterranean cuisine like I am, you’re in for a treat! Today, I’m sharing my tried-and-true recipe for Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta Shells. This dish is a celebration of fresh, wholesome ingredients, harmoniously combined to create a symphony of flavors. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a passionate home cook, this recipe is sure to impress and satisfy your cravings for Mediterranean goodness.
Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta Shells
- 1 large skillet
- 4 plates
- 8 ounces large whole wheat pasta shells (not the kind that you use for “stuffed shells”)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large red onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 1 large green pepper, roughly diced
- 1 medium unpeeled eggplant, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 cups broccoli florets, roughly chopped
- 1 large zucchini, cut into medium chunks
- 3 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 6 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Cook the pasta shells according to the package directions, omitting the salt. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again.
- While the pasta shells cook, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet for 1 minute, then add onion, green pepper, and. Cook, uncovered, until crisp-tender (about 3 minutes).
- Stir in the eggplant, zucchini, broccoli, water, tomato paste, oregano, black pepper, and half of the chopped tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the skillet, and simmer for 8-10 minutes (until the vegetables are tender).
- Stir in the remaining half of the tomatoes, the drained pasta shells, and the parmesan cheese; cook for 1-2 minutes longer, stirring gently until well mixed and heated through.
- Divide between four plates and serve.
To achieve the perfect Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta Shells, consider these tips:
- Cook the pasta shells al dente in a large pot of salted boiling water. Be careful not to overcook them, as they may become mushy. Test for doneness by biting into a shell—it should be tender but still have a slight bite.
- Sauté the vegetables over medium heat until they are just tender, preserving their natural flavors and textures. Avoid overcooking, as it can result in soggy vegetables.
- Add the garlic and herbs towards the end of the vegetable sautéing process to prevent them from burning and becoming bitter.
- When combining the cooked pasta shells with the vegetable mixture, reserve a small amount of pasta water. This starchy liquid can be used to moisten the dish and enhance the sauce’s consistency.
- Season the dish with salt and pepper at various stages of the cooking process to layer the flavors and ensure a well-balanced taste.
Recommend Sides, Garnishes, or Beverages:
To complement the flavors of the Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta Shells, consider the following options:
- Serve a refreshing Greek salad on the side, with crisp lettuce, juicy tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and feta cheese. The vibrant, tangy salad will perfectly balance the pasta dish.
- Sprinkle some freshly chopped basil or parsley over the pasta shells as a garnish. The aromatic herbs will add a burst of freshness and enhance the visual appeal of the dish.
- Pair the Mediterranean flavors with a glass of chilled white wine, such as a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or a fruity Pinot Grigio. The wine’s acidity and floral notes will harmonize with the dish’s vibrant flavors.
- For a more substantial meal, serve the pasta shells alongside grilled chicken or shrimp. The protein will complement the vegetable medley and add an extra layer of richness.
Suggest Different Ways to Serve the Dish:
Get creative with how you present and serve the Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta Shells:
- Stuff the pasta shells with the vegetable mixture and bake them in the oven with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese on top. This twist adds an element of elegance and transforms the dish into a delightful stuffed pasta entrée.
- Transform the pasta shells into a cold pasta salad by tossing them with the vegetable mixture, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve it chilled as a refreshing option for picnics or summer gatherings.
- For a restaurant-style experience, plate the pasta shells individually and top them with a dollop of creamy ricotta cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with fresh herbs before serving.
FAQs about Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta Shells
While preparing and serving Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta Shells, you may have some common questions in mind. Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions to guide you through the process and ensure a smooth culinary journey.
How to store leftovers of Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta Shells?
Answer: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. To reheat, add a splash of water or vegetable broth to prevent the pasta from drying out, and gently warm it on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Can I substitute the vegetables in the recipe?
Answer: Absolutely! Feel free to customize the vegetable selection based on your preferences and seasonal availability. Bell peppers, eggplant, or zucchini can be excellent additions to the dish, bringing extra depth and variety.
Can I make this recipe vegan-friendly?
Answer: Yes! Simply omit the Parmesan cheese or substitute it with your favorite dairy-free alternative. The dish will still be bursting with Mediterranean flavors and suitable for vegans.
Can I prepare the dish in advance?
Answer: While the pasta shells are best enjoyed freshly cooked, you can prepare the vegetable mixture in advance and store it separately. When ready to serve, reheat the vegetables and combine them with freshly cooked pasta shells for the best results.
How can I adjust the spice level of the dish?
Answer: If you prefer a milder flavor, reduce or omit the red pepper flakes from the recipe. To add more heat, increase the amount or sprinkle some additional red pepper flakes during the cooking process. Adjust according to your personal taste preferences.
Experience the magic of Mediterranean cuisine with my Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta Shells recipe. From perfectly cooked pasta shells to a medley of vibrant vegetables, this dish is a true celebration of flavors. Share the recipe with fellow food enthusiasts and subscribe to my blog for more mouthwatering recipes.