Shell pasta is a classic dish traditionally made with meat or cheese stuffing. This vegan stuffed shells version uses tofu, pesto, and vegetables as the stuffing for a healthy and delicious meal. This dish is easy to make and perfect for a weekend dinner party. Guests will love the creamy sauce and cheesy flavor of the shells.
This tofu pesto pasta is creamy, has a great texture, and is loaded with the most delicious vegetables, nutritional yeast, and tofu stuffing, to ensure it is nutritious and plant-protein packed.
We love that these vegan stuffed pasta shells work perfectly as an entree, side dish, or appetizer and are delicious, accompanied by a kale salad with balsamic marinade.
This stuffed conchiglioni (italian stuffed pasta) was inspired by our stuffed mushrooms and 5-minute vegan basil pesto on this site.
These pasta shells make a perfect special occasion starter. Why not try it out for Valentine's dinner!
- Gluten-free pasta shells (or regular)
- Fresh mushrooms
- Fresh spinach or frozen spinach
- Minced garlic or garlic powder
- Dried tomatoes
- Extra-firm tofu
- Nutritional yeast
- Pesto sauce
Optional: chopped parsley and cherry tomatoes.
If making homemade pesto. Make the 5-minutes Easy Vegan Pesto Recipe, simply placing all the ingredients in a blender.
- Briefly boil the jumbo pasta shells according to package directions until they are just al dente and reserve with a little olive oil to prevent them from sticking.
- Crumble tofu with your hands, draining any excess water.
- Cook tofu. Dice the zucchini and mushrooms, and coarsely chop the dried tomatoes; then cook with a little olive oil if not using a non-stick pan, stirring occasionally.
- Sauté your chopped vegetables, crumbled tofu, and seasonings.
- Blend the sautéd ingredients plus all the remaining ingredients in a food processor, reserve there, or place them in a large mixing bowl to work more comfortably.
- Fill the jumbo shells with the help of a spoon, holding them with a hand, one at a time.
- Prepare for baking, arranging the stuffed shells in a baking dish or casserole dish.
- Top with the pesto and let the vegan stuffed shells cook in a preheated oven for 30 minutes at 375ºF (180ºC).
- Optionally, briefly cook whole cherry or grape tomatoes in a skillet and reserve.
- Serve the pasta shells with the blistered tomatoes and optional fresh basil leaves.
Make these vegan stuffed shells recipe for dinner tonight!
Use giant stuffed shells to make the stuffing process easier, especially if you plan on having the tofu pesto pasta as a main dish.
Here we offer some substitutions to make dairy-free stuffed shells
- Vegetables - this mushroom stuffed shells recipe features highly nutritious and flavor-packed ingredients that are also easy to substitute. You can easily adapt this recipe with any mix of veggies in your fridge. Simply process the vegetables, baby spinach, and tofu to make a spinach ricotta filling.
- Pasta sauce - you can top the vegan stuffed shells with any pasta sauce like store-bought tomato sauce made, traditional Italian tomato passata, homemade marinara sauce (see recipe), vegan bechamel sauce, or vegan basil pesto sauce. Sun-dried, pistachio pesto, or arugula pesto work as well.
- Vegan ricotta - instead of using tofu and nutritional yeast for the cheesy flavor, you can use a portion of choice of vegan cheese shreds or simply use homemade tofu ricotta, which takes 5-minutes to make. You could use silken tofu instead but drain all the excess liquid thoroughly.
- Pasta - you could make this amazing recipe using your favorite pasta, like cannelloni tubes, as long as you they have a shape that you can fill.
Hint: add red pepper flakes to make the dish hot.
- You need a food processor (this one is my favorite).
- Saucepan or skillet.
- Baking tray.
This tofu and pasta recipe is abundant, so it’s perfect for serving a crowd, having seconds, or saving leftover stuffed shells for the next day.
Store tofu pesto pasta leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Alternatively, store them in the freezer for several months, and thaw them overnight before consuming.
🇮🇹 More Italian recipes inspiration
- Cacio e Pepe Spaghetti
- 3-Ingredient Pasta Sauce
- Pasta alla puttanesca
- Saffron Risotto
- Lemony Spaghetti
- 14 Vegan Italian Recipes
Check out our Vegan Italian Dishes Post.
See more ways to prepare tofu to perfection and how to make crispy tofu.
Tofu is great for making stuffing on vegan dishes; we use it to stuff onions and our stuffed peppers recipe.
If you made these stuffed pasta shells vegan, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don't forget to tag a photo #ourplantbasedworld on Instagram. Cheers!
Vegan Stuffed Shells Tofu Pasta Recipe
- 12 ounces shell pasta jumbo, Italian Conchiglioni
- 10 ounces mushrooms cremini or portobello
- 6 ounces spinach
- 4 ounces sun-dried tomatoes
- 4 ounces extra-firm tofu
- 2 ounces breadcrumbs gluten-free
- 2 ounces nutritional yeast
- 3 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 onion
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 zucchini medium
- 1 cup parsley ~ one bunch
- 1 teaspoon sea salt optional
- 7 ounces vegan basil pesto
- 8 cherry tomatoes
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF (180ºC) with racks in the middle and upper third. Bring a large stockpot of water to boil over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of salt.
- Dice the onion, zucchini, and garlic. Crumble the tofu. Cut the mushrooms in quarters. Roughly cut the dried tomatoes, parsley, and spinach. Stir fry everything for 5 minutes. No need to use oil. Let it cool down.
- Gently add the pasta shells into the boiling water in handfuls, so they don’t break. Cook until al dente, about 10 minutes, often stirring so they don’t stick to the pot. Drain off the water, place them under cold running water for 10 seconds, return the shells to the pot, and stir in some olive oil to prevent them from sticking.
- Blend. Turn on the food processor and drop the stir-fried mix. Add the breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper. Blend well.
- Stuff each shell generously with the mix with a teaspoon. Place each stuffed shell in the baker in rows and top the shells with the pesto sauce.
- Bake on the middle rack for 30 minutes. Check how it goes and bake for 5 to 10 more minutes if necessary.
- Put the cherry tomatoes in an oiled pan, on high heat, for about 1 minute until they start to have blisters.
- Garnish the shells with charred cherry tomatoes and some chopped parsley if desired.
- Leftover shells will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for months.
🌡️ Food safety
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking points to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
See more guidelines at USDA.gov.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice. See our full Nutritional Disclosure here.
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I'm definitely going to try this one. I have to buy a few ingredients but I have a box of the shells in my pantry already. 🙂
nice! LEt us know how it turns out!
Ann Wycoff says
I made this recipe last night for myself and my husband and we both liked it very much. I ended up going with a bottled vegan pesto to save some time and I used bottled, minced garlic instead of fresh because as it turned out I didn't have any fresh but thought I did.
My husband called it "comfort food" and said he'd like it again.
I'd like to talk a little about how I liked the recipe and include a link back to here on my own small blog. If I do, may I use your picture in the post along with an appropriate photo credit?
Thank you very much Ann. We really enjoy this recipe as well! It is a very versatile recipe and I have also used bottled pesto when it is handy. I definitely agree with your husband! Full comfort-food! Yes, you can use the picture and link back, it is greatly appreciated! Let me know if you need the pic. 🙂
Ann Wycoff says
Thank you very much, Gus, both for the recipe and letting me use the picture. I was able to grab it off the site though if you have a better one you'd prefer I use feel free to send it to my email.
When I make this again I'll probably try to make your pesto.
sure thing! thank you!
nemo lamascolo says
Terrific idea to cut carbs love the additional basil flavor
I haven't tried tofu with pasta but i love the sound of this, need to give it a go!
Megan Ellam says
Love the simplicity yet perfect companion flavours in this recipe. Thanks Gus for a tasty pasta.
Oh wow! This stuffed shell recipe is absolutely divine and so tasty! My boys both loved this and are begging for more. Such a great and yummy comfort food, and we can't wait to make these again soon!
Looks delicious! We like pasta with pesto, but adding the veggies should be even better.
yes, it is a great way to add more veggies and protein to pasta dishes!
This recipe is so delicious! I am so obsessed with making it!
That's cool you enjoyed it, Katie! We are also big fans of pasta shells... pure comfort food!