Rich and creamy cashew-tofu ricotta is blended with fresh spinach, stuffed into tender little pasta pockets and smothered in a quick garlicky tomato sauce to make these vegan stuffed shells.
I’m beginning to think the combination of tofu and cashews is the answer to everything. I don’t even think of it as being a thing half the time. I just start working a recipe around either cashews or tofu, and before I know it, the other half of the duo demands it’s presence be made. It’s really quite a magical combination.
I was telling a friend about this the other day and I think she thought I was nuts. Actually, “that doesn’t sound very good” were her exact words. She’s kind of right. Ten years ago I would’ve thought blended up cashews and tofu was the most disgusting thing on earth. Live and learn.
In case you haven’t tried one of my cashew tofu combo recipes yet, and you’re wondering what it does taste like, here’s the answer: ricotta cheese. That’s it. Rich, creamy, unbelievably vegan, ricotta cheese. For a while I was big on tofu ricotta (before I discovered cashews). Tofu ricotta is pretty good. It like low-fat ricotta. Tofu-cashew ricotta just tastes like regular old fatty ricotta, which is better if you ask me.
Since it is summer, and I have a hard time eating a meal consisting of mostly flour and cheese (even if it is vegan cheese) I had to throw some spinach in there. My vegan stuffed shells florentine turned out to be delightful and way cooler to look at than regular old cheese filled shells, what with all the pretty little green flecks in there.
This is definitely a comfort-food type of meal, but I always think of saucey Italian dinners as being a summer thing, so it’s a big plate full of summery comfort.
Vegan Stuffed Shells Florentine
- 6 oz. dried jumbo pasta shells about 20 shells
For the Quick Tomato Sauce
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 large onion diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves torn and lightly packed
- 1/2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
For the Vegan Ricotta Florentine
- 1/2 large onion cut into 3-4 large chunks
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 cup raw cashews soaked in water 4-8 hours and drained
- 1/2 cup unflavored soy or almond milk
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 lb. extra firm tofu drained
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 2 cups fresh spinach lightly packed
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta shells and cook according to package directions. Drain into a colander. Return to pot and toss with a few dashes of olive oil. Set aside.
Make the Quick Tomato Sauce
- Coat the bottom of a medium saucepan with oil and place over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute more.
- Add crushed tomatoes, basil, sugar, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir a few times to incorporate. Bring to a simmer and lower heat. Allow to simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Make the Vegan Ricotta Florentine
- Place onion, garlic, cashews, milk and lemon juice into bowl of food processor. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add tofu, salt and pepper. Pulse until a thick and slightly chunky, ricotta-like texture is achieved, again, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. If some space remains in food processor bowl, add spinach and pulse until finely chopped and well blended. Otherwise, trasfer mixture to a bowl, finely chop the spinach by hand and stir into mixture.
Make the Stuffed Shells Florentine
- Preheat 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.
- Stuff shells with ricotta mixture and arrange in a single layer in baking dish or skillet. Top with remaining sauce.
- Cover and bake 20-25 minutes, until sauce is bubbly. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.