Vegan Life > Recipes > Dinner > Vegan Stuffed Shells with Spinach and Tofu Ricotta

Vegan Stuffed Shells with Spinach and Tofu Ricotta

October 16, 2020

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Stuffed shells in a casserole dish

When I was in college and learning to cook, the first dishes I perfected were Italian pasta dishes, like lasagna, fettuccine alfredo, and of course, stuffed shells. Stuffed shells are a delicious comfort food for me, but they're made with cheese and eggs. Fortunately, I've managed to create delicious vegan ricotta from tofu, and stuffed shells are once again on the menu in my kitchen. A little bit of flour helps to bind everything together in place of an egg.

These vegan stuffed shells are so easy to make that you'll have no problem making them any day. But they are also perfect for holidays and special occasions like Christmas, Easter, and family gatherings; the whole family will love them.

Stuffed shells on a plate
A good marinara sauce is important for any stuffed shells recipe.

This recipe uses a large amount of marinara sauce; if you don't make your own, I'd recommend choosing a high-quality brand such as Rao's (my personal favorite pasta sauce) or Silver Palate. A good marinara makes all the difference in any stuffed shells recipe. I've made the mistake in the past of using store-brand pasta sauces, and I didn't realize what I was missing until I tried a better sauce. I'm on a budget, so I stock up on my favorite sauces when they go on sale.

I cook the pasta shells al dente, or a little on the firm side. The sauce will continue to soften the shells in the oven, so you don't need to overcook them. The shells will also be less likely to tear. However, feel free to cook the pasta to your preference! Be careful not to tear the shells when separating and filling them.

You'll need to make a batch of homemade tofu ricotta cheese for this recipe, you can find the recipe for that here. It's made with just five simple ingredients: tofu, lemon juice, maple syrup, nutritional yeast, and salt.

If you need a side to go with these amazing stuffed shells, try my garlic bread with homemade vegan parmesan cheese.

Stuffed shells in a casserole dish
Being vegan doesn't have to stop you from enjoying classic comfort foods like stuffed shells!

Vegan Stuffed Shells with Spinach and Tofu Ricotta

5.00 stars from 1 reviews

Yield6-8 servings

Prep Time37 minutes

Cook Time38 minutes

Total Time75 minutes

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. jumbo pasta shells (1 box)
  • 10 oz. fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 batch tofu ricotta
  • 2 tsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 7 oz. dairy-free shredded mozzarella, such as Trader Joe's cashew mozzarella (optional)
  • 3 1/2 cup marinara sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

  2. Half-fill a large pot with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add pasta shells, and cook al dente, about 8 minutes, stirring regularly. Drain the cooked shells and run them under cool water to stop them from cooking further.

  3. While the pasta is cooking, place the chopped fresh spinach in a mesh sieve, and balance the sieve at the top of the pasta pot. Cover the pot with a lid, removing occasionally to stir the pasta. Remove and drain the spinach when it’s bright green and wilted, about 3-4 minutes. (Depending on the size of your sieve, you may need to steam the spinach in two batches. If you don’t have a sieve, you can wilt the spinach in a large skillet with water over medium heat.)

    spinach steaming over a pasta pot
    Steam spinach until it's dark green in color and reduced in size. This spinach is nearly ready, but not quite.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, mix ricotta, flour, onion powder, black pepper, spinach, and mozzarella (if using).

  5. Spread 2 1/2 cups marinara sauce on the bottom of a large 10 x 15 baking dish.

  6. Fill each pasta shell with a large spoonful of spinach ricotta filling and place in the prepared baking dish. You can also use a piping bag with a large round tip to fill the shells, if you prefer. When all shells are in the dish, top the shells with an additional 1 cup of marinara sauce.

    Stuffed shells in marinara sauce, in a casserole dish, ready to be baked.
    Arrange your shells in your casserole dish, and top with additional marinara sauce.
  7. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes at 375°F (190°C). Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Notes & Hints

This recipe makes enough filling for 21-24 shells (depending on whether you use mozzarella); but a 12-oz box contains 36-40 shells. Some shells may tear, so you may wish to cook more than 24 shells, but you don't need to cook the whole box.

If you do want to make use of all the shells in a 12-oz. box, multiply the ingredients by 1.5x. You will likely need an additional casserole pan to fit all the shells.

Cooking the shells al dente reduces tearing, and the shells will soften further in the oven. You don't need to cook the shells for the time listed on the box.

Store and reheat: Cover casserole dish with plastic wrap or place shells in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3-5 days. Reheat in the oven at 350°F (180°C) for 15 minutes.

Nutrition Data

Serving Size: 1/8 of recipe; Calories: 328Fat: 15 g.; Saturated Fat: 5 g.; Cholesterol: 0 mg.; Sodium: 970 mg.; Carbohydrates: 37 g.; Fiber: 4 g.; Sugar: 6 g.; Protein: 12 g.; Vitamin A: 3323 mcg. RAE; Vitamin B12: 3 mcg.; Vitamin C: 11 mg.; Vitamin D: 0 mcg.; Calcium: 103 mg.; Iron: 3 mg.; Potassium: 704 mg.; Zinc: 0 mg.

Note: This data should be used only as an estimate. Please see the nutrition section of my terms and conditions for more information on how this data is calculated.

Four vegan dishes: Creme Brulee, Detroit-style pizza, General Tso's Tofu, and Lemon Tart

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Stuffed shells on a plate with casserole on side
StephSunshine

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