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.
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