These simple but flavorful vegan stuffed shells are filled with tofu ricotta, spinach, and mushrooms. They are perfect as a comforting weeknight meal and come together in 20 minutes of active time!
When I'm looking for nourishing comfort food, I turn to meals like chili mac, pasta bakes, and spaghetti. These stuffed shells fit perfectly onto that list because they are made with simple, wholesome ingredients.
The vegan stuffed shells are filled with herby tofu ricotta that comes together in just 5 minutes. We're also adding spinach, mushrooms, and garlic for extra flavor and to make a more satisfying meal.
Ingredients you'll need
- Tofu ricotta is made using firm or extra firm tofu, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and a handful of pantry staples. You can mix it with fresh parsley and basil for an herby twist or keep it plain.
- Jumbo shells: This recipe uses 15-18 stuffed shells depending on the size of the pan you use and how much you nestle the shells.
- Marinara: Use one 24 ounce jar of marinara or your favorite pasta sauce.
- Mushrooms and spinach add extra flavor and make the stuffed shells a more satisfying meal. I use baby bella mushrooms but white mushrooms also work. Use fresh or frozen spinach. If using frozen spinach make sure to thaw it first.
How to make
Preheat the oven to 350F. Cook the jumbo shells to al dente according to package instructions (generally one minute less than recommended package cook time).
Make the tofu ricotta by blending together the tofu, olive oil, and lemon juice until smooth. Then add in the remaining ricotta ingredients and blend until smooth (more tips can be found on the full tofu ricotta post).
Cook the veggies. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, mushrooms, and salt. Saute until softened, about 6-8 minutes. Then add spinach and garlic and cook until wilted.
Spread 2 cups of marinara sauce on the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish.
Use a spoon to fill 15 jumbo shells with a heaping tablespoon of vegan ricotta. Nest the shells on top of the marinara sauce.
Drizzle the remaining pasta sauce between the rows of the pasta shells. I like to leave the majority of the shells exposed as much as possible.
Cover with foil or with an upside-down sheet pan. It does not need to have an airtight seal. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes, then bake for 10 minutes uncovered.
The stuffed shells are ready when the marinara is bubbling and the shells are warmed throughout.
- Don't overcook the pasta shells: Cook the pasta shells to al dente. This will make them easier to handle and keep them from falling apart while baking.
- Cook a few extra pasta shells. I usually have at least 1 break while stuffing them.
- After cooking, lightly rinse the pasta shells with cold running water. This makes them easier to handle and stops the cooking process.
- Can't find jumbo pasta? I actually ran into this issue while recipe testing. The tofu ricotta filling also works well in manicotti, lasagna, or even as lasagna roll-ups.
- Feel free to top the pasta shells with your favorite dairy-free cheese or stir it into the ricotta mixture. Trader Joe's has a shredded mozzarella that works well here, but I also love Miyoko's cashew mozzarella ball.
- Meatless additions: These stuffed shells would go really well with a meatless Italian sausage link or Impossible meat. You can add it directly to the shells or mix it with the pasta sauce.
- Serve topped with extra fresh basil, freshly ground black pepper, and cashew parmesan. It would also be delicious with dollops of pesto.
Yes, you can make the stuffed shells up to 24 hours before baking. The tofu ricotta can be made 2-3 days before use. Assemble the pasta in the dish and cover tightly with a lid or foil, then refrigerate until ready to bake.
For best quality, keep leftovers refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days.
Reheat individual servings in the microwave in about 2 minutes, or cover the baking dish and reheat at 350F for 15-20 minutes, until warmed through.
While these do make a complete meal on their own, you can't go wrong with the addition of garlic knots or yeast rolls and a big kale salad or vegan Caesar salad.
Looking for more quick dinner ideas?
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Vegan Stuffed Shells with Tofu Ricotta
- 16-18 jumbo shells see note #1
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 ounces baby bella mushrooms finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 packed cups spinach see note #2
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced; adjust to taste
- 24 ounce jar marinara sauce
- 14 ounce block firm tofu drain off liquid
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon miso mixed with 1 teaspoon water to thin
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- ½ cup each basil and parsley (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Cook the jumbo shells to al dente. Rinse with cool running water to cool the cooked shells down.
- To make the tofu ricotta: In a food processor with a standard blade attachment, process together tofu, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon olive oil until smooth. Add remaining tofu ricotta ingredients and process until smooth. This can also be done by hand using a potato masher or fork.
- To cook the veggies: Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once hot, add the mushrooms and salt. Saute 6-8 minutes, until the mushrooms are softened and golden. Add the spinach and garlic. Saute until wilted, about a minute.
- Fold the mushrooms, spinach, and garlic into the tofu ricotta until well combined.
- To assemble the stuffed shells: Add 2 cups of marinara sauce to an 8x8 baking dish. Spread to evenly coat the dish. Add a heaping tablespoon of the ricotta mixture to each shell. Layer shells in 3 rows of 5. Top with remaining marinara sauce.
- Cover with foil or an upside down sheet pan. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes, until the marinara sauce is bubbling and the filling is hot throughout.
- Serve topped with additional basil. Enjoy!
- You only need 15 shells in an 8x8 baking dish but I always cook extra just in case they break while being filled.
- Fresh or frozen spinach can be used. Make sure to squeeze excess liquid out of the frozen spinach.
- Leftovers: For best quality, keep leftovers refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days. Reheat individual servings in the microwave in about 2 minutes, or cover the baking dish and reheat at 350F for 15-20 minutes, until warmed through.
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