Shell pasta is a classic dish traditionally made with meat or cheese stuffing. This vegan stuffed shells pasta 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.
If you're looking for a delectable twist on traditional pasta recipes, this vegan stuffed shells dish is sure to satisfy your cravings. By replacing the meat and cheese stuffing with a tantalizing blend of tofu, pesto, and vegetables, you'll create a mouthwatering combination that will leave your taste buds dancing with delight. Adding lemon juice to pesto adds a refreshing zest to the filling, elevating the flavors and adding a bright citrus note to the dish.
One of the great joys of vegan cooking is discovering the vast array of possibilities that await when it comes to pasta recipes. These stuffed shells dish is a prime example of delicious creations that can be crafted without animal products. By exploring the world of vegan pasta recipes, you'll find a wealth of innovative and flavorful options that cater to a variety of dietary preferences.
The combination of tofu, pesto, and vegetables creates a rich and creamy filling that is reminiscent of the traditional cheese-stuffed shells but without any animal-derived ingredients. The flavors meld together harmoniously, resulting in a dish that is both satisfying and wholesome. Whether you're a seasoned vegan or simply looking to incorporate more delicious vegan recipes into your repertoire, this stuffed shells dish is a must-try that will leave you amazed at just how incredible plant-based cooking can be.
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): Pasta shells serve as the base for the dish, providing a comforting and familiar texture that holds the flavorful stuffing.
- Fresh mushrooms: Mushrooms add a savory and meaty element to the stuffing, enhancing the overall taste and texture of the dish.
- Fresh spinach or frozen spinach: Spinach brings a vibrant green color, a subtle earthy flavor, and a boost of nutrients to the stuffing, making it a nutritious addition to the recipe.
- Onion: Onions provide a foundational flavor and aroma, enhancing the overall savory profile of the stuffing.
- Minced garlic or garlic powder: Garlic adds depth and complexity to the dish, infusing it with a pungent and aromatic flavor.
- Dried tomatoes impart a concentrated burst of sweet and tangy flavor, elevating the taste of the stuffing.
- Breadcrumbs contribute a pleasant crunch and texture to the dish, creating a satisfying contrast to the soft pasta shells and creamy filling.
- Extra-firm tofu: Tofu acts as a versatile and protein-rich substitute for traditional cheese, creating a creamy and satisfying stuffing.
- Nutritional yeast adds a cheesy and umami flavor to the filling, enhancing the overall richness and depth of the dish.
- Basil pesto sauce: Basil pesto sauce infuses the stuffing with a burst of fresh herbaceousness and a vibrant green hue, adding complexity and depth to the flavors.
Chopped parsley and cherry tomatoes: Chopped parsley brings a fresh and herbaceous note to the dish, while cherry tomatoes provide bursts of juicy sweetness, enhancing the overall visual appeal and taste.
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 them 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 this 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
- 3-Ingredient Pasta Sauce
- Pasta alla puttanesca
- Saffron Risotto
- Lemony Spaghetti
- 14 Vegan Italian Recipes
Check out our Vegan Italian Dishes Post.
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 a high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
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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