If you are a pasta lover like me, then you likely know that Italian food is so much more than just pizza and pasta bolognese. One of those Italian inspired dishes I fell in love with is marinara covered and baked Vegan Stuffed Shells. It is another hit from The Friendly Vegan Cookbook that I wrote with my friend, Michelle Cehn (founder of World of Vegan) and I’m beyond excited to share it with you. Beware, they are slightly addictive!
Simple Recipe, Fancy Dish
This Vegan Stuffed Shells recipe is one of those super simple preparations using easy to find ingredients that ends up looking like a million bucks! The final result will look like you spent hours in the kitchen working your magic when in reality it’s only a few pulses away. Our kind of recipe for sure!
This is why these Vegan Stuffed Shells are such a good choice when it comes to hosting a dinner or lunch, you get to show off your amazing chef skills after a chilled time in the kitchen. Also, these Stuffed Shells are great for calculating portions in advance. If you calculate 3 to 4 shells per person you could serve between 8 to 6 people in one go and using only one batch of this recipe.
The Power of the Marinara
This preparation doesn’t have many tips and tricks because of its simplicity but there is one thing that can make it or break it. The tomato sauce is the life of this dish and that is why it is important to make sure it is packed with flavor.
You can buy a rich ready-made marinara (or arrabbiata) and save yourself the extra time, or you can get crafty and make a big batch of homemade marinara recipe (like the one on The Friendly Vegan Cookbook!). Prepping a big batch of homemade marinara for the week can make your weekly meals a lot more interesting.
If you have some leftover cooked shells, you can enjoy them like any other pasta, I usually like dressing them with extra-virgin olive oil, garlic powder, salt, red chili pepper flakes, and nutritional yeast.
1 (16-ounce) block of firm (or extra-firm) tofu, pressed
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
5 medium cloves of garlic
1⁄4 cup of packed fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
2 teaspoons of salt
3⁄4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1⁄4 teaspoon of red chili pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
Juice of 1 of a medium lemon
1 cup of packed spinach leaves
1 (25-ounce) jar of flavorful marinara sauce (or 1 batch of the recipe on page 228), divided
1⁄2 cup of vegan cheese shreds (optional)
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish (optional)
In a large pot of boiling water, cook the jumbo pasta shells according to the prebake cooking directions on the package. Then drain, rinse with cold water to prevent sticking, and set aside.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor, combine the tofu, onion, garlic, basil, oregano, salt, black pepper, red chili pepper flakes (if using), nutritional yeast, and lemon juice. Pulse 15 times or until partially mixed. Add the spinach and pulse just a few more times until combined. The resulting texture should be ricottalike. Do not overpulse or your ricotta will turn green!
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Pour half of the marinara sauce into a 9 × 13 inch baking dish, spreading to evenly coat the bottom of the dish.
One by one, fill each cooked shell with a generous spoonful of the tofu ricotta filling and place in the prepared baking dish. Continue until the tofu mixture is gone and the baking dish is filled. Sprinkle the vegan cheese (if using) on top.
Drizzle the remaining marinara sauce over the stuffed shells. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes or until the cheese (if using) is melted and the edges of the shells are lightly browned. Garnish with the basil leaves (if using). Serve immediately and enjoy hot.
Keyword baked, italian food, nut-free, pasta dish, stuffed shells, vegan, vegan pasta, vegan stuffed shells
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