I will admit when I first read this recipe from Angela Liddon at Oh She Glows I was skeptical. I didn’t think that stuffed shells could possibly be palatable without even a smidgen of cheese. I decided to bookmark the recipe anyways because I am always looking for something new to try. I also loved the idea of making the “cheese” out of tofu which would add a ton of belly filling protein.
The recipe stayed in my bookmarks for months. Then. . .
My sister has a lot of symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome which include food sensitivities to things such as dairy. Whenever she experiences an increase in her reaction to certain food items I try to be careful about eliminating them from our meals. I thought this recipe would be a great way for her to get some extra protein and nutrients without the addition of excessive dairy.
Still, the tofu filling might be healthy but would it taste good?
The answer is yes.
These stuffed shells taste like the real deal. They are cheesy and rich with a nice kick and body from the fresh herbs, onion and celery.
No one will ever be the wiser.
In fact, I didn’t even tell my dad (and he still doesn’t know) what they were made of and he scarfed them down and declare them “really good.” I decided what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him 🙂 .
Jumbo Stuffed Shells (from Oh She Glows)
Yield: approx. 30 shells or 6 servings
- 3.5 cups pasta sauce
- 340 grams jumbo pasta shells (I used 30 shells or 2/3 of the box – but make extra as some break)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, minced
- 1/2 cup packed fresh parsley, minced
- 1 (14oz) package extra-firm or firm tofu, pressed
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 3/4-1 tsp fine grain sea salt, or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (optional)
1. Rinse block of tofu and wrap with paper towels followed by 2-3 tea towels. Place it on a cutting board or plate and add several heavy cookbooks on top. Press tofu for about 20-25 minutes to drain out the water. Alternatively, you can use a tofu press.
2. Grease a very large casserole dish. I used about 30 shells, but you’ll need to cook more than that as some shells will break during the cooking process. Cook shells in a pot of boiling water until al dente, about 8-11 minutes. Be careful not to overcook. Drain shells and set aside to cool.
3. Preheat oven to 400F. For the tofu ricotta: In a large skillet, sauté the garlic and onion in the oil for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the chopped celery, basil, and parsley and sauté for another 5 minutes or so. Feel free to throw in some spinach for extra greens.
4. For the tofu, you can either crumble it into the skillet with your hands or you can give it a whirl in the food processor and then stir it into the skillet. If you use the processor, the texture will be very creamy like ricotta cheese and if you crumble it with your hands it will be more chunky/crumbly. It’s up to you how you want to make it. I usually opt to crumble it by hand so I don’t dirty the processor. Stir in the nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, lemon, and cayenne all to taste. Over medium heat, cook for about 8-10 minutes or until most of the water cooks off.
5. Spoon about 1 cup of marinara sauce into the casserole dish and spread around. Add about 2 tbsp of tofu ricotta into each stuffed shell and place shells on top of marinara sauce. Cover shells with the remaining 2-2.5 cups marinara sauce and any leftover tofu ricotta. You can add vegan cheese on top, but I don’t bother. Cover dish with tin foil and poke several air holes. Bake at 400F for about 20 minutes or until heated throughout. Serve with a basic green salad and garlic bread, if desired.