I can pack away some serious stuffed shells.
Cheesy, warm and delicious, stuffed shells are the ultimate comfort food out there in my opinion. They’re also a great make-ahead dish for company. Whose eyes don’t widen when they see a huge pan of shells coming out of the oven?
Lately though, I’ve been really wanting to experiment with a lighter variation, a vegan version. Call me crazy, but I wanted to see if it was possibly to cut the cholesterol but not lose any of the flavor. Guess what? It worked.
In this dairy-free version, I use a blend of tofu, olive oil, garlic and nutritional yeast as the “ricotta” filling and I swear you won’t be able to tell the difference! These vegan stuffed shells are still so incredibly cheesy and filling, you’ll swear this is the traditional cheese-laden version. But don’t believe me, believe my barbecue-loving boyfriend who ate an entire plateful of these shells without noticing a hint of a difference. When I asked him how dinner was, a huge smile grew on his face as he told me it was absolutely delicious and, were there seconds?
Dairy-Free Spinach Stuffed Shells
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1.5 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 16 ounces extra firm tofu
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 10 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted
- 1 box jumbo shells
- 1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce
- Drain the tofu and pat dry with paper towels. Crumble into the bowl of a food processor or high-speed blender along with olive oil, salt, oregano, garlic and nutritional yeast. Process on high until smooth and “ricotta-like”.
- Add the defrosted spinach to the blended tofu mixture.
- Cook shells in boiling salted water until el dente. Drain
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour about ½ cup pasta sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan. Stuff shells with 2 T of filling and place in pan, seam side down. Repeat until all shells have been stuffed.
- Pour remaining pasta sauce over shells, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Serve!
Yield: 6-8 servings
Jenna Weber is half of the Fresh Tastes blog team. She graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in 2008 and, since then, has worked as a pastry chef, bread baker and freelance food editor. Currently, Jenna blogs full-time on EatLiveRun.com where her delicious daily recipes and quirky culinary musings appeal to thousands. She lives in Northern California and, when not in the kitchen, can usually be found on her yoga mat.