This vegan version of stuffed shells is a little lighter, but still full of flavor and satisfaction, you won’t miss the original.
Right now, I have tons of herbs in my garden, so I’ve made green goddess dressing, herb salads, and garnished and infused just about everything with their wonderful flavor.
Let’s stuff some shells!
I also decided they would be a great way to flavor up some tofu to stuff some shells for a little dinner with a couple of friends. I made a big batch of homemade pasta sauce a few days ago and saved a quart for dinner later in the week, and the shells were a perfect showcase on the night.
A few changes
My mom used to stuff the shells with the fairly traditional combination of ricotta cheese, mozzarella, spinach, herbs, and an egg tossed in for good measure. But since my husband’s heart attack last October, we’re being more careful with saturated fat. My cholesterol also crept up in the past few years, and I’ve been able to keep it under control to avoid medication. Thus, we’re really thinking about the cheese, butter, and eggs which we both could eat at every single meal if it did not have health impacts! But there are tons of other wonderful foods to enjoy, so we’re not feeling deprived at all.
Vegan cheese? Well, vegan cheese-like
While I’ve not found a good substitute for the cream in my coffee, I’ve learned black coffee is quite enjoyable, or just a splash of oat milk. There are a few vegan options for cheese products that are ok. Yes, just ok. Most are not, and quite frankly I’d rather eat most dishes without the vegan cheeses, which are filled with sodium and additives and often use nuts, which half my family is allergic to. My exception is a light sprinkle of the vegan Parmesan which comes in a little wedge, or I substitute nutritional yeast. There is one vegan cream cheese that is all right if it is not standing alone, and one vegan mozzarella that melts nicely and fills the role. One smoked provolone is also nice in an omelet, but it stops there for me. Don’t offer me vegan cheddar, this Vermonter doesn’t buy it, literally or figuratively!
Silken tofu the rescue
However, silken tofu is a great substitute for recipes where ricotta is the star, such as stuffed shells or lasagna. My daughter made a lovely vegan lasagna recently for the dairy challenged. She stuffed a ton of herbs and garlic in the blender with the tofu, and the result after baking was a wonderful substitute for her usual wonderful dairy version.
Enter summer squash!
The beautiful, sweet local summer squash has hit the stands in abundance, and I thought it might be great to use about half the shells in the regular recipe and bulk it up with tender squash, just to cut the starch a little but still enjoy the pasta. It turned out great! Many of you have a glut of zucchini just about now, a perfect substitute for the yellow squash.
I used imported Italian Semonina “Conchiglioi” or conch shell shaped pasta. They are big and hearty, and have no saturated fat and just a touch of salt. If they were also organic, I’d love them even more. The summer squash in the recipe added moisture to the dish as it baked, so everything was just right.
Seal of approval, from cheese lovers
I would not post this recipe if it didn’t meet the flavor and satisfaction test of both me and the husband, especially for a pasta dish! This one is a guilt-free keeper recipe I’d serve to anyone, vegan or not. And it earned thumbs up all around!
Vegan Stuffed Pasta Shells and Summer Squash and Fresh Herbs
- 36 or so jumbo shells
- 1-quart pasta sauce
- 1-lb. silken tofu
- 1 tbsp. fresh snipped chives
- 1 tbsp. minced basil
- 1 tbsp. minced parsley
- 2 scallions
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 12 oz. summer squash, rough chop
- Vegan Parmesan or Parmesan, grated
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease an 8”X13” baking pan.
Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil, salt it, and add the shells. Toss in a couple extra in case one or two breaks. Cook just until slightly starting to soften, five minutes or less. Drain immediately.
In your food processor or blender, combine the tofu, herbs, and salt and pepper and pulse until combined. Taste for seasoning.
Place about a third of the sauce in the bottom of your dish and add the summer squash. Place a third more sauce over the squash, then fill the shells with the tofu mixture, about a tablespoon each, and nestle on top. Finish with the last third of the sauce. It’s easy and fun!
Cover with parchment paper, then foil, sealing it tight. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the shells and squash are cooked. Remove the foil and parchment, sprinkle with the vegan or regular Parm, and pop under the broiler for five or six minutes, just until everything is melty and nice, you know how you like it.
Let cool for a few minutes before serving or you will probably burn your mouth, then add a few chopped herbs if you like.
Serve with a salad, some hearty bread to sop up the sauce, and a lovely glass of cabernet sauvignon.
Make it for the flavor, then again for the nutrition.
Head over to Suzassippi’s Lottabusha County Chronicles where Suzassippi has not only made this recipe, but also included the nutritional information as well on using silken tofu rather than ricotta. Thank you so much!
You can substitute another squash in this recipe, or use fresh green beans for a different twist, just cut them up first. You can also leave out the veggies and use all shells if you like.
If you don’t have homemade pasta sauce on hand, you can use jarred, but look for a brand such as Rao’s that lists just recognizable food on the label and has great depth of flavor.
My slow-simmered Homemade Pasta Sauce recipe here.
My quicker, roasted homemade pasta sauce here.
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59 Comments Add yours
Looks like another meatless dish for my budding recipe folder!
This one is really good, I’m definitely going to make this for family gatherings so everyone can be happy and well-fed!
This looks yummy. Do you think zucchini would work in it [[she asks, looking at her 1 zucchini plant with fear]] ?
Absolutely! Zucchini would be great, and there’s a lot of them out there right now!
Love stuffed shells and your filling looks delicious.
Thanks Jovina! They really tasted a lot like my mother’s!
This is the kind of vegan dish that any carnivore would enjoy. So full of flavors! 🙂
Thank you Ronit! I was really pleased how this one turned out!
You had me at pasta Dorothy! This looks fabulous and I would never have guessed it was vegan.
I don’t think anyone would Diane! The pasta sauce is flavorful, and the herbs give all they have to the tofu filling.
I’m going to try this one, thank you. 🙂
I hope you enjoy it as much as we all did! Thanks for stopping by.
I love the summer squash with herbs!
The summer squash really made this dish a little different, added some texture and sweetness.
I have been craving spaghetti sauce so why not stuffed shells! Thank you! And thanks for the tip about tofu!
You are very welcome! The herbs really contributed to the transformation of the tofu.
I have a daughter visiting who prefers vegan and if it’s not steak and potatoes I’m at a total loss! Thanks Dorothy, I’m going to show this one to Kelley! Hugs, C
Ah, thanks! I hope it interests her!
I am always so impressed with the recipes you create for special diets Dorothy and this one is no exception, it looks and sounds so good!
Thanks Jenna! This one is definitely a keeper!
Love this! I used to use silken tofu for lots of creamy things; it works so well and nobody knows! Great recipe.
It’s a great secret ingredient isn’t it! Love it for desserts especially.
Thank you! It will be in our regular rotation!
Thank you Dorothy. I have made any foods with this pasta in years. I suppose I stopped making when I could not find the larger shells. You not only spark up appetites but similar recipes and forgotten dishes.
Sometimes those larger shells are indeed hard to find. I found mine at an Italian pantry in a local town. Of course, then I saw them a couple of other places!
This dish looks and sounds delicious and is going in my folder of meatless recipes for when I return from my trip…Thank you for sharing, Dorothy 🙂
Thanks Carol! I hope you like it as much as we did!
I’m sure they will I’m trying to cut down their meat consumption.. 😀
I find with my meat eaters, as long as there is pasta involved, they hardly notice there is no meat!
Thats just what I was thinking as long as its filling and with some garlic bread 🙂
What a feast! I had a busy day all day on Saturday. Then I got home and made pasta for dinner and ate it outside. A Perfect Ending! 🍃🍝
This sounds so delicious and I love that it’s so healthy too! I need to be eating healthier myself!
Thank you Nancy! It was a pleaser all around!
This looks and sounds so tasty! You are showing all of us how to recreate meals in a healthier way!
I’m a complete doofus when it comes to tofu, but you sure make a strong case for it here! It’s the silken tofu I’ve never figured out. It makes total sense that the fresh herbs make it inconspicuous, and it looks like a great stand-in for ricotta in your stuffed shells.
It worked great Terrie, we were all really pleased!
Loving this recipe, Dorothy! Tonight I made spaghetti with a sauce made with cashews, soy milk, a little heat (chili) seasonings, plus mushrooms and cocktail tomatoes. For cheesiness I added a little nutritional yeast. It was simply yum. Mind you, Dorothy, I could eat almost anything with spaghetti; I love pasta!
This one’s already copied and pasted…. 🙂
Oh, that sounds delicious Carolyn! It must have been so creamy and satisfying. Did you use raw cashews?
Yes, Dorothy, I used raw cashews soaked in warm water for a couple of hours – then drained and blended in the soy milk. I forgot to mention the avocado! I blended sufficient to make the cashew milk even more creamy. A little nutritional yeast to top it off, and heated through just before serving. The result was spaghetti generously coated in creamy sauce. I’m now thinking I’ll try the silken tofu next time for extra nutrition! 🙂
It sounds so good!!!
A proof that fresh herbs can be used with literally everything! It looks amazingly delicious Dorothy! 😋😋
Thank you Ribana! The fresh herbs make such a difference. This didn’t turn out “ok for vegan” it turned out delicious for everyone!
I’d pick up a fork and try this any day of the week. Looks delicious.
Thank you Judy! It was really tasty, and the leftovers, even better!
Oh yum! And I love that you’re adding herbs from the garden, Dorothy. I’ve been cutting my mint plant for mint tea in the evening 😀
Love fresh mint tea Christy! So wonderful this time of year.
This recipes looks amazing! I’ve got several family members going vegan and this is a huge help. Thank you!
Thank you! I think this will be a crowd pleaser!
I love this awesome recipe . 🌝
Oh, thank you so much!
This looks delicious! I live new ways of using tofu!
Thanks! It is one of our new favorites, and everyone in the family can eat it!
Thanks for posting the link Rosalina! We really love this one!
This sounds delicious, will definitely have to give it a try!