Tofu ricotta stuffed shells are a vegan version of a comfort food favorite. They're rich, creamy, and so delicious!
This vegan stuffed shells recipe uses a modified version of the tofu ricotta in my tomato-basil ricotta puffs as the filling. It's super easy to make right in your food processor!
These tofu stuffed shells are warm, cozy, healthy comfort food. They're packed with protein and even sneak some spinach into the mix. My family loves this recipe, and I'm so excited to share it with you!
You want to start this recipe by getting those shells boiling on the stovetop. They'll take around 15 minutes to cook, which is plenty of time to make the ricotta and gather your other ingredients.
The shells should be al dente for this recipe. You don't want them too soft, because they will be harder to stuff and want to fall apart.
While the shells cook, add the tofu, Italian seasoning, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, and miso to a blender or food processor. Process until you have an even, creamy mixture.
Thaw some frozen spinach, and squeeze out the excess moisture. Then, add this to the tofu mixture by pulsing in the food processor. You're going for incorporating the spinach into the ricotta, but you don't want this to turn totally smooth.
Pour about a cup of marinara sauce into a 9x13" baking pan, so you can arrange your shells as you stuff them.
When the shells are ready, rinse them under cold water, so you'll be able to handle them, then stuff generously with the ricotta mixture. Arrange them in the baking pan in a single layer.
Top the shells with more marinara along with vegan mozzarella and a generous sprinkle of my vegan parmesan fairy dust, and bake until the cheese melts.
The great thing about stuffed shells is that you can customize them!
For a gluten-free variation, simply use gluten-free shells. The rest of the recipe is naturally gluten-free.
You can also mix up the filling! Instead of frozen spinach, use an equivalent amount of other veggies like cooked kale, sautéed mushrooms or zucchini, or sun dried tomatoes.
If you want to make vegan stuffed shells with ground beef, cook up your favorite vegan grounds or vegan sausage and mix them with the marinara sauce.
Have fun with this recipe!
Vegan cheese for stuffed shells
This recipe uses homemade tofu ricotta for the filling and vegan mozzarella shreds on top. You can also add a sprinkle of homemade vegan parmesan before baking, if you like!
When you're shopping for the mozzarella for this recipe, you can use vegan mozzarella shreds or liquid mozzarella, though I prefer shreds here.
Vegan cheese can sometimes have trouble melting. The portion of the baking where you cover the pan with foil should help with this. The steam from the marinara helps the cheese melt!
But don't fret if your cheese doesn't fully melt. The final dish will still taste delicious!
What shells to use?
This recipe uses jumbo shells which can vary in size. The ones I'm using list a serving as 10 shells, so they're on the smaller side.
If you want to use larger shells, use about half as many.
How to serve and store
Serve these tofu stuffed shells straight up or with a nice, green salad on the side. My kale and broccoli salad goes great with this recipe!
Store leftovers in an airtight container. They will keep for three to five days in the refrigerator.
You can also freeze leftovers! Just transfer to a freezer-safe container, and they will keep for up to three months in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat in the oven or microwave.
To make these in advance, assemble the whole dish, cover with foil, and refrigerate. You can make these up to a full day ahead of time.
When you're ready, pull the pan out of the fridge while the oven preheats. Then, bake according to the recipe below.
Tofu Ricotta Stuffed Shells
- 24 pasta shells - cooked according to package directions
- 3 cups marinara sauce - store-bought or homemade is fine
- 6-8 ounces frozen spinach - thawed and with excess moisture squeezed out
- 1 block extra firm tofu
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon miso paste
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 cup vegan mozzarella shreds
- 2-4 tablespoons fairy dust - optional
- Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- Cook the shells according to the package directions, then rinse them under cold water.
- While the shells cook, thaw the spinach and spread half of marinara sauce onto the bottom of a 9x13" baking pan. Set this aside.
- Combine the tofu, oil, lemon juice, Italian seasoning, miso paste, garlic powder, and onion powder in your food processor. Run it until you have a totally smooth mixture. Add the spinach and pulse just to incorporate.
- Stuff the shells generously with the tofu ricotta mixture and arrange them in the baking pan. Top with the remaining marinara, and sprinkle on the mozzarella and fairy dust (if using). Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then uncover and bake for 10-15 more minutes.
Frequently asked questions
If you've never made stuffed shells before, this can feel a bit daunting. The trick is to make sure you don't overcook the pasta. You want your shells firm, so they don't fall apart when you stuff them.
As soon as you drain your shells, rinse them in cold water, so they're cool enough to handle. Then, grab a shell in your hand and spoon the stuffing in. Use your fingers to press it evenly into the shell, stick it into the baking pan, then you're ready to move on to the next one.
Chances are you overcooked the pasta. The pasta continues cooking a bit in the oven, and if it's too soft when you put it in, it can go mushy/runny.
It's not, but you can definitely use manicotti in this recipe, if you prefer!
They're just called shells, or conchiglioni.