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Spinach & Basil "Ricotta" Stuffed Shells

What you need: 

1 lb. firm tofu (not silken), drained & pressed
5 oz. frozen spinach, cooked & squeezed dry
1/3 cup raw pine nuts
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves (about a handful)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1-2 tablespoon olive oil, or more if needed
about 22 dried Conchiglioni (jumbo pasta shells)
1 large jar tomato sauce

What you do: 

In a medium size bowl, crumble up the tofu with your hands. Add the lemon juice, garlic, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Continue to work the mixture with your hands, until the ingredients are evenly incorporated. Set aside.
In a small pan over medium-high heat, toast the pine nuts in a single layer, stirring frequently, for 3 - 4 minutes or until they are just lightly browned. Remove from heat.
In a food processor, grind the pine nuts for a few seconds. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and process the pine nuts until smooth, about 1 - 2 minutes. Add the basil leaves and the spinach to the food processor and pulse a few times until finely chopped. Add the tofu ricotta mixture to the food processor, and blend everything to a smooth consistency, scraping the sides often and adding more oil if necessary. Transfer mixture to a separate container, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Stir in the conchiglioni, a very generous pinch of salt (optional), and about a tablespoon of olive oil. Cook the pasta al dente, for about 9 - 10 minutes (or according to package directions), stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Drain shells, lay them out on a clean towel and allow them to cool before handling.
Lightly grease a casserole dish and coat the bottom with a layer of tomato sauce. Fill each pasta shell with approximately 2 tablespoons of the tofu ricotta mixture and squeeze each shell gently to seal shut. Place shells in the casserole dish and cover with the remaining sauce.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Serve with warm garlic bread and sautéed veggies.

Preparation Time: 
Cooking Time: 
Servings: 
6-8

SO HOW'D IT GO?

I love to cook. This is a good quality for the single vegan in a family of 4 to have.  :P  This past weekend, my sister and her boyfriend invited me over for dinner at their place.

She was pretty nervous about making a meal I could eat and the rest of the dinner party would enjoy. (Her boyfriend is your traditional meat and potatoes fan) Well, this recipe turned out SOO good that her even her boyfriend loved it and even asked for her to save it for another time. I will definitely be making this in future.

The best part is the filling would be great for a wide variety of pastabilities... not just stuffed shells!

Kudos to the (original) chef!  ;)b

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I added some sun dried tomatoes and walnuts to the filling and it turned out pretty delicious. I wish I had some vegan mozzarella to put on top of the shells and may do that next time. My only complaint was that I didn't have enough filling for 20 shells.

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This was really delicious!  Everyone loved these at my table- I had made cheese stuffed shells for the non-vegans, and these were definitely preferred.  I had to substitute walnuts because I didn't have pine nuts in the house and they worked perfectly.  YUM!

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I have made this several times now and I love it! As a personal preference I add about three times as much pine nuts and garlic as this makes it taste really smoky and rich. I've tried a few variations as well... for some reason I thought it might be good with a little vegan cream cheese mixed in....BAD idea. The cream cheese made it so gross! I should have known this was perfect without it! Next, I tried the filling in a spontaneous baked ziti I made and it was great! Just mixed it in with cooked ziti and marinara sauce with some more sauce over the top and then baked it....it was soooooo good! My family (all omnivores) loved it and said it actually tasted better than ricotta. Thanks for this recipe!!

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this is going to be one of my staples, definitely.

i couldn't get pine nuts, so i used cashews instead, and i don't have a food processor, and it was STILL fabulous. i thought about adding nutritional yeast but wanted to stay as close to the recipe as possible; next time i'll give it a shot, though, since everyone seems to like it that way. :)  this goes perfectly with some nice bread and vegan butter. i had a hard time telling it wasn't vegan, and actually my boyfriend liked it much better than ricotta anyway!

i'd like to try this filling in a veggie lasagna variation. :)

p.s. i'm going to make this for my family when i go home next week. thanks so much for a wonderful, easy, and healthy recipe! :)

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I actually started adding 1/4 cup nutritional yeast to this recipe recently, and it is such an improvement! (I was living in southern indiana at the time I originally posted this and could not find nutritional yeast ANYWHERE)

also, it's easier & less messy to just throw everything into the processor rather than using your hands. so that was a silly direction on my part.

I don't know how I ever lived without a food processor!

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This recipe was fantastic...the only recommendation I have is that I would not try to make it without a food processor. I have a pretty good blender (makes great hummus!) and this was NOT working at ALL. Luckily, I have a food processor attachment for my blender...and while it was small, and I had to do it in a couple of batches, it still worked out great.

Left out the nutmeg, didn't have any. And the next night they were still delicious (I bought some more tomato sauce and added it to the dish).

Thumbs up on the nutritional yeast as well.

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if you add some nutritional yeast to this recipe it makes it taste super cheesy and adds some extra protein!!! mmmmmm  :D

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Tried this last week and can't wait to make it again, it was SOOOOO good! Don't have a food processor, so had to use the blender, but it turned out great- I loved the flavor-Thank you so much!

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