What's For Dinner: Vegan Stuffed Pasta Shells

Vegan Pasta Shells Stuffed with Tofu and Spinach || A Less Processed Life

So, yeah. Sometimes the food is delicious, but the photos, are, well, not so much. But I swear to you, these vegan(!) stuffed pasta shells are utterly, to quote Penny Hartz, uh-mah-zing. (Anyone else miss Happy Endings?) Like, really amazing. 

Vegan Pasta Shells Stuffed with Tofu and Spinach || A Less Processed Life

And let me tell you, I typically love my pasta shells stuffed full of cheesy goodness. "The more cheese the merrier!" is my usual rallying cry. But ... there is nary a curd to be seen in this vegan recipe. And dare I say it, I don't miss the cheese. Because, well, it sure doesn't taste like the cheese is missing.

Vegan Pasta Shells Stuffed with Tofu and Spinach || A Less Processed Life

Somehow, through the magic combination of firm tofu, apple cider vinegar, and miso, the filling is quite reminiscent of ricotta. So much so that it's nearly indistinguishable (really!). Add in plenty of garlic, some fresh Italian herbs, and your favorite marinara pasta sauce, and you've got yourself a winning dinner combination.  

Vegan Stuffed Pasta Shells (printer-friendly version)
makes 6 servings

6 ounces jumbo pasta shells (about 20 shells)
12 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 16-ounces block firm tofu, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
2 tablespoons unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons white miso
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces baby spinach leaves (about 6 cups)
1 24-ounce jar pasta sauce (I used Newman's Own Tomato Basil pasta sauce)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Cook pasta shells according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water, and then place on clean kitchen tea towel to cool and dry.
3. Add the smashed garlic and olive oil to a small skillet and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes, or until garlic is soft and golden brown in color. Remove from the heat and set aside.
4. Crumble the tofu into the bowl of a food processor, add the vinegar, lemon juice, miso, garlic, oil, thyme, oregano, and basil and process until smooth. 
5. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the spinach and 2 tablespoons of water. Saute for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the leaves are wilted. Transfer the spinach to a strainer and squeeze out excess liquid. Roughly chop the spinach, and stir into the tofu mixture. Season with black pepper.
6. Add about 1 cup of the pasta sauce to the bottom of a glass baking dish. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the filling into each pasta shell, and place in a single layer in the baking dish. Cover the pasta shells with the remaining pasta sauce and bake 45 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.