Marfigs' Munchies

Adventures in vegan eats and feats

Black bean, fig and red pepper stuffed shells

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What madness! I apologise for my long sabbatical from the world of food – this has been a rather trying past two weeks with near-constant preparation for my Masters classes. This week I have to present on the conflict between truth and politics (fabulous topic!) but I have already exceeded my word limit ten times over (yes, ten), so now I have to work like a beast to re-read all the sources to ensure that I haven’t gone off on a tangent in terms of my understanding, and then begins the more challenging task of cutting down all my hard work. So it goes! Nevertheless, this while past has not been without food, so here is a tasty treat I baked up since I’ve been so good with my oven usage of late (or rather, no time to bake!).

My amazingly generous and kind-hearted colleague gifted me with a big 1kg bag of raw black beans last week, so over the weekend I spent many an hour rinsing, soaking and then boiling them. The taste is phenomenally different from what I’m used to (I usually just sub kidney beans in recipes that call for black beans), but I am absolutely going to make more this coming weekend and make lots of sweet brownies or the like, and, of course, more of these delightful pasta shells. Yum! We don’t really do much pasta in our house, mainly because I try restrict my intake after living strictly off of that and bread in my first two to three years of university (hence the raging obesity). There is also not such a thing as wholewheat or rye jumbo pasta shells, it seems, so this was definitely an out-of-the-box treat. Sometimes, however, I feel one must splurge on form and texture, not to mention happiness. Hannah Arendt speaks quite frequently of the idea of the individual never being alone – always in dialogue with hir inner self. The idea that one must live in integrity with your self as being of many aspects contained within your own personal consciousness is very striking, because lately I’ve been grumpy and rather cruel in my anxiety over not being able to control my mounting panic over small things. I’ve decided to power down for a while, to retrace my inner self to a place of neutrality, and then live in the world and within myself with integrity; not to elevate myself to great heights, but to show love to those around me who deserve better, such as Man-thing. I usually do that with confessional apologies, food and hugs, but sometimes it is not enough to say one has been beastly – instead, tackle the beast, chop off its head, and present it to wronged friends or lovers as a proof of your smarting conscience.

In place of a head, what then? Pasta shells, says I! So, not so far away from food as one would hope, but it’s symbolic. And stuff.

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Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 10 jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes, or 3 – 4 freshly chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 5 dried figs, soaked in hot water for an hour
  • 5 basil leaves
  • 2 roasted red peppers (or fresh, depending on what you have around)
  • small handful of roasted carrots (again, steam them if you do not care to turn on your oven)
  • spices & salt
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP soy sauce
  • 1 TBSP curry powder
  • 1 TBSP onion powder
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I just couldn’t resist roasting them – roasted vegetables are SO beyond delicious in their own way. I don’t use any oil, just splash them with some herbs and bake them 15 minutes a side. Of course, I also eat raw carrots in bulk on a daily basis as snacks to sate my oral fixation, so roasting is more as a treat than anything else.

How-to:

  1. Roast or steam your carrots and red peppers, depending on your fancy
  2. Boil the pasta shells in salted water until al dente. Rinse them under cold water to get rid of the starchy fluff.
  3. Preheat to 180C.
  4. Prepare an oven dish by pouring out half a can of chopped tomatoes (or half your fresh cuts). Mix with the 1 TBSP of curry powder and 1 TBSP of onion powder (or nutritional yeast).
  5. In a food processor, blend together all ingredients, liquids and spices except the figs until relatively smooth, but where you can still see hints of bits (such as sprinkles of red pepper). Then add the figs and blend for a few seconds until incorporated.
  6. Split your filling ingredients in two, then fill each pasta shell so that there’s no more left over (or just divide equally). Be sure to really line and squish your filling into the shell so that it doesn’t stand a half-empty crust but a nicely puffed nom-bite. The filling, not the pasta, should be the star of the show.
  7. Line your shells in your curried tomato sauce upright. Pour the rest of the tomatoes atop your creation.
  8. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, depending on taste. I like mine uber roasted, but some may just want the hint of baked.

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Pre-bake madness. Yes, it will look gloopy but you will have to restrain yourself – even in this state it is pure heaven.

Optional: You can add some vegan cream or ground cashews to your filling or to the sauce, as is your preference. A gravy will also go smashingly atop this wonder once it has come out of the oven. Mmmm!

closeuppastaresI heated these up for lunch because I had baked them the evening before, being in a bit of a rush/spin, but they came out swimmingly. Man-thing called them a “roaring success”, which is good enough for me. So yes, not the most glamorous shots ever, but the time for focus and artistry is unfortunately not now. Plus, to me pasta is one of those things that represents comfort food. I can just close my eyes, take a deep sniff and snuff and know that, no matter its looks, I will be full and content at the end of the journey. With so much chaos in life at the moment, and especially because it is the chaos of the self in relation to others, a no-nonsense, back-to-basics approach is what I’m aiming for to reclaim the essence of that which I hold dear; friendships, relationships, and a sense of acceptance of self as a being trying to navigate through the overlapping scaffolding of truth and opinion, pause and action.

mwroarres

Author: Marfigs

Ahoy, Iā€™m Margaux! History teacher and freelance editor; wench to my Man-thing; volunteer at a cat shelter; and handmaiden to our kitsy cats, Gatsby, Freyja and Atlas. This blog is dedicated to vegan food, occasionally overthrown by pictures of foster kittens and other fluffy creatures. I love sharing ideas and recipes, so don't be shy: stop by and say hi!

5 thoughts on “Black bean, fig and red pepper stuffed shells

  1. Pingback: Quinoa mushroom + lentil beetroot hummus stuffed pasta shells | marfigs' munchies

  2. Love figs and love this flavor combination ;)) Oh- and I am a daily carrot cruncher as well!

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  3. I never would have thought to go fusion with the stuffed shells instead of just Italian tomato sauce etc., but it sounds really tasty! Hopefully I can get my hands on some figs soon.
    I snack on raw carrots on a daily basis as well :):)

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    • Yay! Oh it is absolutely tasty- that smoky bean with the sweet bite of fig, and the undertone of roasted goodies…I am going to make a lasagna this weekend with the same filling just because of its nomness! šŸ˜€

      I’m also very glad to hear I’m not the only carrot monster. I always feel rather guilty when I crunch away and make such a racket in the computer room, but that’s what headphones are for (in the case of Man-thing). šŸ˜‰

      Like

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