Pasta is without a doubt the ultimate comfort food. There are so many different pasta combinations and creations possible I could more than happily eat it every day, and at the top level tier of all pasta dishes is stuffed pasta - fact! Here is my recipe for creamy tofu ricotta and spinach stuffed pasta shells, baked in a delicious marinara sauce.
There are a few different methods you can use to make the vegan 'cheese' filling. Many recipes use a nut base such as cashews or almonds, however my preferred method is to use tofu. As with my vegan cheese sauce recipe, I much prefer the flavour and texture of tofu-based sauces, they don't involve spending hours soaking nuts, and they are perfect for anyone looking for nut-free recipes! Alternatively, you could also buy vegan 'cream cheese' by brands such as Violife or Koko.
This recipe makes 18 stuffed pasta shells, which doesn't sound like much but trust me it is super filling! For all you eagle-eyed readers you may have noticed that my dish only has 15 shells in... Sadly I didn't have one big enough to fit all 18 in so I snacked on the remaining three whilst the rest were baking in the oven! Vegan ricotta and spinach is one of my all-time favourite pasta fillings, and the one I probably make the most often. If you fancy something a bit different, other fillings ideas to stuff your shells with are bolognese, pesto, or mushrooms with a white sauce.
Tofu Ricotta & Spinach Stuffed Shells
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes
For the marinara sauce:
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp basil
1 tsp oregano
Salt and pepper
For the tofu ricotta:
400g tofu, firm
15g nutritional yeast
1 tbsp miso paste
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
200g fresh spinach
18 large pasta shells
To serve - Fresh basil, vegan cheese
To make the marinara sauce, heat a pan with a little oil over a medium heat, add the onion and garlic and soften for 5 minutes.
Add the remaining marinara ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta shells according to the packet instructions until al dente, then drain.
Place all the ingredients for the vegan ricotta in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. You may need to stop a few times to scrape down the sides.
Steam the spinach until it starts to wilt, then mix into the tofu ricotta.
Pour the marinara sauce into a large baking dish.
Evenly add a spoonful of the filling to each of shells and place in the baking dish on top of the marinara sauce, you should aim to fit three rows of six shells.
Place the dish in the centre of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and serve the stuffed shells with optional vegan cheese and fresh basil.
Any left-over sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
Although the marinara sauce is fairly quick to make, you can also opt to use a store-bought sauce.
This tofu and ricotta filling is also perfect for stuffing vegan ravioli or tortellini!
You can also use the vegan ricotta in other recipes such as lasagna, cannelloni, or as a snack with crudites.
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy my vegan ricotta and spinach stuffed pasta shells recipe! If you do try any of my recipes I'd love to know how they turn out - tag me on Instagram @josiewalshaw!