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Vegan Stuffed Shells Florentine – Connoisseurus Veg

These vegan stuffed shells will knock your socks off! Made with rich and creamy cashew-tofu ricotta that’s blended with fresh spinach, stuffed into pasta shells and smothered in a quick garlicky tomato sauce…you’d never guess they were dairy-free!

Wooden surface set with skillet, water glass and plate of Vegan Stuffed-Shells Florentine.

If there’s one vegan dish that you could absolutely fool your non-vegan friends with, it’s these vegan stuffed shells.

Vegan ricotta cheese is one of the simplest dairy substitutes out there, and it’s VERY convincing. It really shines in this recipe. I’ve been known to snack on the ricotta filling right out of the food processor, on little pieces of bread or crackers (pro-tip: make extra if this sounds like something you’d do!)

Spinach and killer tomato sauce round out the dish. Hosing a special dinner soon? Make these! I don’t often recommend serving serving a dish featuring fake cheese to omnivores (vegan chili is always a safer bet for that kind of thing), but these stuffed shells are an exception. They’re absolutely scrumptious and you’d never guess they were dairy-free.

Jump to:

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Jumbo pasta shells. Most dried pasta is vegan, but check the ingredients to be safe!
  • Olive oil. Any high-heat oil will work, but olive oil will give your sauce the best flavor.
  • Onion.
  • Garlic.
  • Canned crushed tomatoes. If you can’t find these, just buy whole or diced tomatoes in sauce and briefly blitz them in a blender.
  • Sugar. Use organic sugar to keep the recipe vegan.
  • Dried oregano.
  • Salt & pepper.
  • Fresh basil. I don’t recommend substituting dried.
  • Raw cashews. Make sure they’re raw — roasted cashews will make your vegan ricotta taste like nuts. If you can’t have cashews, try subbing macadamia nuts or raw sunflower seeds. Whatever you use, you’ll need to soak them in water for a bit to soften them up for blending.
  • Non-dairy milk. Use anything that’s unflavored and unsweetened. Soy milk, almond milk, and cashew milk are all good choices.
  • Lemon juice. Use freshly squeezed juice for the best flavor.
  • Extra-firm tofu.
  • Fresh spinach. Frozen spinach can be subbed if that’s what you have on hand. You’ll need about 2 ounces. Be sure to thaw and drain it before adding it to your ricotta.

How They’re Made

The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!

  • Boil your pasta first so it’s ready to go when you need it.
  • To make the sauce, sweat some diced onion in olive oil until it softens, then add your garlic and cook it for a minute or so with the onion. Add tomatoes, sugar, oregano, salt, and pepper and let the sauce simmer for a bit. Fresh basil goes in last.

Tip: Feel free to substitute your favorite jarred sauce or homemade tomato sauce. You’ll need about 3 cups.

Pot of tomato sauce simmering on a stove.
  • To make the ricotta cheese, first blend onion, garlic, soaked raw cashews, non-dairy milk, and lemon juice in a food processor or blender. Blend until the mixture to a paste. It should be smooth, but don’t go crazy — remember that ricotta cheese is chunky.
Food processor bowl filled with cashew cream mixture for making vegan ricotta.
  • Add tofu, salt, and pepper and pulse the machine until the mixture is chunky, like ricotta cheese.
Food processor bowl filled with vegan ricotta.
  • Add your spinach last. Pulse the machine again until the spinach is well mixed into the ricotta filling. If your food processor starts getting overloaded, transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir the spinach in by hand.
Food processor bowl filled with vegan spinach ricotta.

Tip: You can save time on the day of serving by making the sauce and filling a day in advance.

  • Spoon the ricotta mixture into your shells and layer them in a baking vessel with the sauce. Cover and bake everything until hot and bubbly.
  • Feel free to sprinkle some shredded vegan mozzarella cheese over your stuffed shells during the last few minutes of baking. I usually skip this as I don’t find it necessary with all of the creamy ricotta.
Skillet filled with tomato sauce and uncooked vegan stuffed shells.
Skillet of Vegan Stuffed-Shells Florentine on a wooden surface.

Leftovers & Storage

This dish makes for awesome leftovers! Your vegan stuffed shells will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for about 3 days, or in the freezer for about 3 months.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can this recipe be made gluten-free?

Yes! Just use gluten-free vegan jumbo pasta shells.

Can these be assembled ahead of time and baked later?

They can! Seal them up tightly in your baking dish and refrigerate for up to 1 day or freeze them for up to 3 months before baking. I recommend thawing them in the fridge before baking if they’ve been frozen.

Wooden spoon scooping a vegan stuffed shell from a skillet.

More Baked Vegan Pasta Dishes

Video!

Check out my video for some guidance on how to make these vegan stuffed shells!

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Plate of Vegan Stuffed-Shells Florentine with fork.

Vegan Stuffed Shells Florentine

These vegan stuffed shells will knock your socks off! Made with rich and creamy cashew-tofu ricotta that’s blended with fresh spinach, stuffed into pasta shells and smothered in a quick garlicky tomato sauce…you’d never guess they were dairy-free!

Soak Time (Cashews) 4 hours

Ingredients

  • 6
    ounces
    dried jumbo pasta shells
    (about 20 shells)

For the Quick Tomato Sauce

  • 1
    tablespoon
    olive oil
  • ½
    large onion,
    diced
  • 3
    garlic cloves,
    minced
  • 1
    (28 ounce or 794 gram) can
    crushed tomatoes
  • ½
    tablespoon
    organic granulated sugar
  • 1
    teaspoon
    dried oregano
  • ½
    teaspoon
    salt,
    plus more to taste
  • ¼
    teaspoon
    black pepper,
    plus more to taste
  • ½
    cup
    fresh basil leaves,
    torn and lightly packed

For the Vegan Ricotta Florentine

  • ½
    cup
    roughly chopped onion
    (about ½ of a medium onion)
  • 3
    garlic cloves,
    minced
  • 1
    cup
    raw cashews
    soaked in water 4-8 hours, rinsed and drained
  • ½
    cup
    unflavored and unsweetened soy or almond milk
  • 2
    tablespoons
    lemon juice
  • 1
    (14 ounce or 400 gram) package
    extra firm tofu,
    drained and broken into 5-6 large chunks
  • ½
    teaspoon
    salt,
    plus more to taste
  • ¼
    teaspoon
    black pepper,
    plus more to taste
  • 2
    cups
    fresh spinach leaves,
    coarsely chopped and lightly packed

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta shells and cook them according to the package directions.

  2. Drain the pasta into a colander, then return it to the pot and toss it with a few dashes of olive oil. Set aside.

Make the Quick Tomato Sauce

  1. Coat the bottom of a medium saucepan with oil and place it over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion. Sweat the onion until softened, about 5 minutes.

  2. Add the garlic and sauté it with the onion 1 minute more, until very fragrant.

  3. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, sugar, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer and lower the heat.

  4. Allow the sauce to simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  5. Stir in the basil and remove the sauce from the heat. Taste test and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

Make the Vegan Ricotta Florentine

  1. Place the onion, garlic, cashews, milk and lemon juice into bowl of food processor. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed.

  2. Add the tofu, salt and pepper. Pulse the machine until a thick and slightly chunky, ricotta-like texture is achieved, again, stopping to scrape down the sides of bowl as needed.

  3. If some space remains in food processor bowl, add the spinach and pulse until finely chopped and well blended. Otherwise, transfer mixture to a bowl and stir the spinach in by hand.

  4. Taste-test and season the mixture with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Make the Stuffed Shells Florentine

  1. Preheat the oven to 400º. Coat the bottom of a 9 inch by 9 inch baking dish or 10 inch round oven-safe skillet with about half of sauce.

  2. Stuff the shells with the ricotta mixture and arrange them in a single layer in the baking dish or skillet. Top with the remaining sauce.

  3. Cover and bake the shells for 20-25 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly.

  4. Remove the shells from the oven and allow them to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

If you’d like to use jarred tomato sauce for this recipe you’ll need about 3 cups.

Nutrition Facts

Vegan Stuffed Shells Florentine

Amount Per Serving (5 shells (¼ of recipe))

Calories 551
Calories from Fat 228

% Daily Value*

Fat 25.3g39%

Saturated Fat 4.8g24%

Sodium 1024mg43%

Potassium 647mg18%

Carbohydrates 61.8g21%

Fiber 10g40%

Sugar 18.2g20%

Protein 25.4g51%

Calcium 280mg28%

Iron 9mg50%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.



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