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Healthier Vegan Stuffed Shells with whipped tofu ricotta make a satisfying and lightened-up plant-based Italian dinner recipe.
There's nothing like tucking into a piping hot plate of homemade stuffed shells. Especially when they're comforting, drenched with umami-rich tomato sauce and packed to the brim with fluffy seasoned vegan ricotta.
This is such a beloved casserole recipe that I couldn't wait to make a vegan version of it. While most recipes for vegan ricotta cheese rely 100% on soaked cashews, I decided to give this dish a lighter twist. I like to add extra-firm tofu into my plant-based ricotta recipe. The result is light, fluffy, and more cost-effective than cashews alone.
If you're a fan of classic stuffed shells, I think you're going to love this vegan version. And I can't wait to hear what you think! Don't forget to leave me a review if you make Vegan Stuffed Shells for dinner!
Making vegan ricotta for stuffed shells is easier than you might think. Simply whip everything together in a food processor or blender, fill your shells up and bake until hot. Reminder: You can find the printable, detailed recipe in the recipe card below.
- Jumbo shells: You'll cook these as instructed on the package before stuffing them with your homemade ricotta filling.
- Raw cashews: This post covers everything you need to know about how to soak cashews for creamy, dreamy vegan ricotta. Bonus: there are three easy ways to do it!
- Extra-firm tofu: Add lightness, protein, and volume to your vegan stuffed shells filling with tofu.
- Dried parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper: These flavor your rich and creamy plant-based ricotta.
- Lemon juice: This will brighten up the ricotta and give it that classic tang.
- Pasta Sauce: I love using store-bought pasta sauce for convenience, but you can always make an easy marinara right at home.
- Fresh Basil: For a classic Italian garnish and herby freshness.
The best part of this dairy-free ricotta, other than how delicious it is, is how easy it is to make.
Throw everything (except the basil) into a food processor and blend until the texture resembles ricotta - creamy, but grainy and not perfectly smooth. Add more salt if needed.
You can also use a blender if you don't have access to a food processor, though you may need to scrape down the sides a few times.
Mix in the basil before adding into the shells by the spoonful. Place the shells in a 9x13 dish with sauce and bake!
For the best flavor, enjoy your vegan stuffed shells hot out of the oven. However, you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Or freeze for up to one month.
Substitutions & Variations
- Gluten-free: Substitute gluten-free jumbo shells in the recipe.
- Spicy Vegan Stuffed Shells: Add a dash of crushed red pepper flakes to the pasta sauce.
- Other herbs: Feel free to replace the garlic powder and dried parsley with other dried herbs and seasonings to flavor the ricotta.
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Vegan Stuffed Shells
- Cook the shells according to the package instructions. Tip: cook an additional 3 or 4 shells just in case some break apart.
- Preheat the oven to 375℉.
- Drain the tofu. Then blend the tofu with the cashews, lemon juice, garlic powder, parsley, salt, and pepper until a similar texture to ricotta cheese. I prefer to use a food processor but a regular blender will work fine (you may need to scrape down the sides.) Fold in the basil.
- Spread 2 cups of the sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 dish.
- Stuff each shell with the vegan ricotta mixture and place in the dish. Top with remaining marinara sauce. Add vegan mozzarella on top if desired.
- Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- To chiffonade basil, stack the leaves on top of each other, then roll up tightly. Slice into strips with a sharp knife.