Vegan Stuffed Shells

BY : PUBLISHED : November 2nd, 2020 UPDATED: November 21st, 2021

These Vegan Stuffed Shells are the perfect Italian comfort food!

completed vegan stuffed shells plated on a white plate against a gray and white towel

This Vegan Stuffed Shell Recipe Is: 

  • Made with tofu
  • Perfect for an Italian-inspired dinner
  • Plant-based and Vegan
  • The best dairy-free stuffed shell recipe!
  • Surprisingly EASY to make

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!

The Friendly Vegan Cookbook by Toni Okamoto & Michelle Cehn

Simple Recipe, Fancy Dish

This Vegan Stuffed Shells recipe is one of those super simple preparations using easy-to-find ingredients that end 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.

The Ingredients and Substitutes

  • Jumbo Pasta Shells – 12 ounces
  • Tofu – 16 ounces, pressed (firm or extra-firm works best). Here’s a great guide to pressing tofu, if you need some extra guidance.
  • Onion – 1 medium yellow, roughly chopped
  • Garlic – 5 cloves
  • Basil Leaves – 1/4 cup, packed (fresh basil is recommended)
  • Dried Oregano – 2 teaspoons
  • Salt – 2 teaspoons
  • Black Pepper – 3/4 teaspoon, ground
  • Red Chili Pepper Flakes – 1/4 teaspoon (optional, but adds a nice spice to the dish)
  • Nutritional Yeast– 2 tablespoons (helps add more of a cheesy flavor)
  • Lemon – juice of a medium-sized, freshly squeezed
  • Spinach Leaves – 1 cup, packed
  • Marinara sauce – 25 ounces, divided (use your favorite marinara, I recommend one that is full of flavor)
  • Vegan Cheese Shreds – 1/2 cup (optional)
  • Fresh Basil Leaves – for garnish (optional)

How to Make Vegan Stuffed Shells

Keep scrolling to the recipe card for the complete list of ingredients and recipe instructions!

It’s super easy to make these tofu stuffed shells!

  • Start by boiling a large pot of 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 ricotta-­like. Do not over pulse 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 vegan 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.

completed vegan stuffed shells plated on a white plate against a gray and white towel

Recipe Notes & Tips

  • These stuffed spinach shells are a perfect recipe to make for a family dinner and are easy to make to feed a larger group.
  • Don’t overcook the pasta and make sure you rinse the pasta after cooking to avoid having the shells stick together.
  • Add the tofu stuffing to a piping bag for easier shell stuffing.

What Should I Serve with Vegan Tofu Stuffed Shells?

These vegetarian stuffed shells are a very filling recipe by themselves. I recommend making a nice and light salad or some filling bread to go along with this recipe.

FAQs about Vegan Stuffed Pasta Shells Recipe

  • How should I store my leftover stuffed shells? Store in the fridge in an airtight container.
  • Can I make vegan stuffed shells ahead of time? Yes! Tofu stuffed shells are a great make-ahead recipe! Pop the dish into the oven and cook the day you are ready to enjoy them.
  • Can you freeze stuffed shells? Yes, it works out really well. Just prepare the shells and then cover them and store them in an airtight container.

Other great vegan pasta and Italian-inspired dishes:

Photos by Zhoro Apostolov

completed vegan stuffed shells plated on a white plate against a gray and white towel

Vegan Stuffed Shells

Toni Okamoto
Can you prepare some delicious Vegan Stuffed Shells only using plant-based ingredients? Yes, you can! This recipe makes is super easy to whip up and comes out extremely delicious!
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 6 servings
Calories 358 kcal
METHOD Stove, Oven
DIET Vegan

Ingredients
  

  • 12 ounces of jumbo pasta shells
  • 16 ounces of firm (or extra-firm) tofu, pressed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 5 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 a medium lemon
  • 1 cup of packed spinach leaves
  • 25 ounces of flavorful marinara sauce, divided
  • 1/2 cup of vegan cheese shreds (optional)
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish (optional)

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 358kcalCarbohydrates: 58gProtein: 18gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 1501mgPotassium: 657mgFiber: 6gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 1072IUVitamin C: 15mgCalcium: 157mgIron: 4mg
Keyword baked, italian food, nut-free, pasta dish, stuffed shells, vegan, vegan pasta, vegan stuffed shells
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedonaBudget! 🙂

About Toni Okamoto

"They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
'Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways...
we got to start taking better care of ourselves " - Dead Prez

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