This stuffed shells recipe was one of the first meals I made when I decided to transition from vegetarian to vegan. At that point, the idea of giving up cheese seemed very daunting to me. Also, I hadn’t really felt the need to be super creative with tofu or other plant-based proteins yet. After trying these stuffed shells, I was very encouraged. They helped me realize that you don’t need dairy to achieve the texture and experience that we crave from the familiar dishes of shells, lasagna, and manicotti. Once I was convinced that there was no sacrifice involved in going vegan, this Italian girl was sold.
This recipe is from PBS Food and is really easy to execute, even for tofu beginners. And, besides the tofu and nutritional yeast, all of the ingredients are things that many non-vegans have in their kitchens already. For that reason, it’s a great dish to use to introduce your friends and family to vegan cooking.
1 package extra firm tofu, drained well by pressing with paper towels
1 package frozen spinach, completely defrosted and squeezed to remove excess water
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 tbp oregano (or dried Italian seasoning)
1/4 tsp salt
1 box shells
1 jar pasta sauce
Sprinkle of Daiya mozzarella shreds (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook shells in large saucepan of boiling water for approximately 10 minutes, or until al dente. Meanwhile, add crumbled tofu, spinach, olive oil, garlic, oregano, and salt to a food processor and blend until well incorporated and smooth. When cooked, drain shells in a colander and immediately rinse with cold water to make sure they don’t stick together and to bring down their temperature. Spread a thin layer of pasta sauce on the bottom of a 9×9 baking pan. One at a time, fill each shell with a generous heaping tablespoon of the tofu mixture and place open-side-down in the pan, continuing until the bottom is completely covered with stuffed shells. Pour pasta sauce over the shells until they are all just covered (spread sauce with the back of a wooden spoon to even out if necessary). Sprinkle with Daiya shreds if desired, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes covered and 10 additional minutes uncovered. Let cool for a few minutes and then serve. Mangia!
Serves 2 hungry people or 4 polite people