These tofu ricotta stuffed shells are incredible! The preparation couldn’t be simpler, the ingredients are all easy to source and it makes a ton of food that reheats perfectly (maybe even better the second time around!). It doesn’t get much better than that, does it? I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for over a year now but have put it off since my Zucchini Involtini with Tofu Ricotta is preeetty much the same, but my First Week Vegan meal plan finally motivated me to make the post. I love making a tray of these for movie nights, as you can prep them up to 3 days in advance before cooking.
My mom has been making these routinely since I first made them for her over a year ago. Both of us don’t generally top it with the bechamel, so that part is totally optional if you want to skip it and save some time. The tofu ricotta here is nearly unrecognizable from traditional dairy ricotta, especially when combined with tomato sauce as the acidity cuts away any bean-ier flavors you otherwise might get.
Vegan bechamels are identical, both in the preparation and the end product, to dairy laden ones. That’s a big reason I really recommend cheese sauces like this for swaying stubborn omnivores and for new vegans in the beginning since you don’t get that ‘uncanny valley’ effect from these like you do with commercial vegan cheeses when you’re still used to dairy cheese. Once your taste buds adapt (they die and are replaced every ~2 weeks) and you’re no longer physically addicted to casein, you’ll likely find yourself amazed by the quality and variety of vegan cheese options today.
Tofu Ricotta Stuffed Shells
half of a 12 oz box jumbo pasta shells, cooked according to package instructions (I make the whole box and double the tofu ricotta to make two trays and freeze one)
1 jar pasta sauce of choice (I like Whole Food’s 365 roasted garlic. Under $2 and v good!)
tofu ricotta (recipe below)
bechamel (recipe below)
9 oz bag of fresh spinach (optional)
vegan parmesan for garnish (I use a homemade hemp seed parm)
Preheat oven to 400
In a skillet over medium/low, cook down the spinach, making sure to press out the excess moisture. Stir into the tofu ricotta.
Pour the pasta sauce into a 9×13″ baking dish. Stuff the cooked jumbo shells with the tofu ricotta and spinach mixture, then nestle into the baking dish tightly. Drizzle or brush the bechamel over the top.
Bake for 15 minutes, then under the broiler for 2-5 minutes to brown. Garnish with the optional vegan parmesan.
for the tofu ricotta-
1 block firm tofu, pressed
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/8 cup lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp chopped herbs of choice (I used parsley, oregano and thyme but even just parsley will be more than fine. If using dried herbs, use about 1-2 tsp total)
optinal – pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Crumble the pressed tofu into a medium sized bowl. Stir in the remainder of the ingredients making sure everything is well combined.
for the bechamel –
1 cup thick, unsweetened plant based milk like soy or cashew
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp vegan butter
1 tbsp all purpose flour
salt to taste
optional, use them if you have them but don’t run out to the store if you don’t- 1 tsp light miso, 1 tbsp tapioca starch and 1 tsp agar agar
In a saucepan over medium heat, make a roux with the 2 tbsp vegan butter and the all purpose flour by browning the butter slightly then whisking in the flour and cooking for about a minute. Slowly drizzle in the 1 cup of plant based milk while whisking. Add the nutritional yeast and salt. Add the optional ingredients here. Simmer for a few minutes until thickened. Use right away.