Vegan spinach and ricotta stuffed pasta shells - these vegan stuffed shells are made with a creamy almond tofu ricotta cheese, spinach and a rich, flavourful marinara sauce. They are easy to make and the ultimate comfort food!
These vegan spinach and ricotta stuffed pasta shells are one of my favourite comfort food meals. They are a winning combination of carbs, creamy, cheesy spinach and rich, tangy tomato sauce. What's not to like!
They are also really easy to make and can be prepared in advance to save time if needed; making them a great option for weeknight dinners, or even for a fancy dinner party.
They can be served either as a main course with a leafy green side salad and a loaf of crusty bread to mop up the sauce; or in smaller portions (about 3 shells per person) as a starter.
How To Make Vegan Spinach And Ricotta Stuffed Pasta Shells:
The base for these vegan spinach and ricotta stuffed pasta shells is an almond and tofu based 'ricotta' cheese.
I generally just use almonds to make my vegan cheese but decided that in this case it might end up making the shells a bit too rich, so I added in some tofu as well to lighten it up which also packs in some extra protein.
To make it you just need to soak some flaked skinless almonds in boiling water for half an hour, drain them well and blitz them up in a blender or food processor with some lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic, salt, onion powder and firm tofu until it is smooth but still has a slightly grainy texture like ricotta cheese.
To this I add chopped defrosted frozen spinach, though you could also cook up some fresh spinach and use that instead if you prefer.
The pasta shells are stuffed with the spinach and ricotta mixture then baked on top of a layer of marinara sauce.
I make my own marinara, it is very easy to do and tastes great, but you could absolutely use a shop-bought one instead to save time if you want.
Once the shells are baked I like to sprinkle them with a little home-made vegan 'parmesan' cheese before serving.
Again this is super quick and simple to make, you just have to blitz some cashews and almonds with some nutritional yeast, salt and garlic and onion powders until it reaches your desired consistency.
It keeps well in a jar ready to sprinkle onto pasta, salad, pizza, soup and whatever else you feel could benefit from a little extra cheesy, umami flavour.
Make sure that you don't overcook the pasta shells, they should be almost but not quite al dente as they will continue to cook while they are in the oven and you don't want them to go mushy.
Taste the spinach and ricotta filling before stuffing the pasta shells to make sure that it is seasoned to your liking.
If you don't want to make your own marinara sauce you can use a shop-bought one instead. You'll need about 750ml/26oz.
If you are so inclined, a scattering of grated vegan mozzarella cheese over the top of the shells before they are baked would be delicious.
Can I Freeze Them Before Baking?:
Yes. Follow the recipe as written but don't bake the shells once they are assembled. Instead, cover the dish tightly with tin foil and freeze for up to three months.
Bake the shells from frozen adding an extra 10 minutes to the first stage of baking and an extra 5-10 to the second.
How Long Will They Keep In The Fridge?:
If Making Ahead: If you want to prepare the pasta shells in advance of baking them, the shells can be filled and kept covered in the fridge for a max of 24 hours before baking as directed.
Cooked: Left-over pasta shells will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
More Vegan Pasta Recipes:
You can never have enough pasta recipes! Here are some of my favourite comforting vegan pasta dishes:
If you tried this recipe let me know how it went! Rate it, leave a comment or tag @domestic_gothess on Instagram and hashtag it #domesticgothess
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Vegan Spinach And Ricotta Stuffed Pasta Shells
- 200 g (2 cups) flaked skinless almonds
- 60 ml (¼ cup) lemon juice
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 clove garlic peeled
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) water
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp onion powder
- 400 g (14 oz) firm tofu excess liquid drained off
- 450 g (16 oz) frozen spinach defrosted
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium brown onion peeled and finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
- 1 400 g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes
- 500 ml (2 cups) passata
- a small handful fresh basil finely chopped
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- a pinch red chilli flakes optional
- salt and pepper
- 250 g (9 oz) jumbo pasta shells (about 32 shells)
- 50 g (⅓ cup) cashews
- 50 g (⅓ cup) almonds
- 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ¼ - ½ tsp salt to taste
- Place the flaked almonds in a bowl, cover with plenty of boiling water and set aside to soak for 30 minutes.
- Drain them well then place in a blender with the lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic, water, salt and onion powder. Blend until they are almost smooth but still have a slightly grainy texture. You will most likely need to stop and scrape down the sides a couple of times. If your blender has a tamper tool, use it. If you really need to you can add a drop more water to get the mixture moving but don't add too much or your ricotta will be too runny.
- Crumble in the tofu and blend again until smooth but slightly grainy. Transfer to a bowl.
- Squeeze as much of the excess water out of the defrosted spinach as you can then roughly chop it and add it to the ricotta mixture. Taste and add more seasoning as needed.
- To make the marinara sauce, heat the olive oil in a large pan over a low heat. Add the onion and cook gently for 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until soft and translucent.
- Add the crushed garlic and cook for another minute then add the tinned tomatoes, passata, chopped basil, oregano and chilli flakes if using along with some salt and pepper.
- Simmer for about 20-30 minutes until reduced slightly, then taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta shells according to the packet directions but for about 2 minutes less. They should be al dente or slightly less.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
- Pour the marinara sauce into a large casserole or lasagne dish. (I used two smaller dishes rather than one big one).
- Fill each pasta shell with a heaped spoonful of the ricotta mixture and arrange them filling side up on top of the sauce.
- Cover the dish with tin foil and bake for 15 minutes. Recuce the heat to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 and remove the foil. Bake for another 10-15 minutes.
- While the shells are baking make the parmesan (if using). Place the cashews, almonds, nutitional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder and ¼ tsp salt in a food processor or blender and blitz until it reaches a powdery consistency with a few larger pieces. Be careful not to go too far or you will end up with nut butter.
- Taste and add more salt as needed. The parmesan will keep in a jar at room temperature or in the fridge for up to a month. Sprinkle some over the pasta shells just before serving.
- Note that the almonds for the ricotta need to be soaked for at least half an hour so get that on the go before starting with the rest of the recipe.
- If you want to prepare the pasta shells in advance of baking them, the shells can be filled and kept covered in the fridge for a max of 24 hours before baking as directed.
- Left-over pasta shells will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.