I really outdid myself with this one.. A cozy pasta bake that is also super nutritious due to the tofu ricotta? Yes please!
If you’re on the fence about this one because of the tofu- I am CONFIDENT that once you try it, you too will be a tofu convert.
Tofu is the MVP of this recipe for a few reasons:
Tofu is an amazing ingredient that you can almost “sneak” into different dishes. This is because it is very versatile & it essentially takes on the flavour of what you add in or cook with it. In this recipe we will be blending it in with the other ingredients for the the “ricotta,” however tofu can also be cut into cubes or strips and pan fried or baked.
Tofu is a mega popular plant-based staple for good reason:
- It is a COMPLETE protein, meaning it has the same amino acid profile as the animal based counterparts.
- It is a great source of the essential minerals calcium and iron.
- It’s very inexpensive! Nourishing and inexpensive is my favourite combination. I bought 2 packages of tofu for $1.88 each! Animal products cannot beat that price.
Tips for making Tofu “Ricotta” Stuffed Shells:
Although Tofu Ricotta may sound intimidating, it is actually very easy to make! The tofu ricotta itself if done totally in the food processor. This recipe itself is not technically difficult, however stuffing the pasta shells will likely be the part that takes the most of your time. Read though my tips below to streamline the cooking and make dinner a breeze!
- Make ahead some of the ingredients like the pasta shells- you can cook the shells the night before, however be sure to drizzle with a little olive oil so the shells do not stick together too much. You could even blend the tofu “ricotta” ahead and just pop in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
- Use a food processor to make the tofu ricotta if you have one. A regular stand up blender would work too, however you may have to stop and scrape down the sides a few times. My food processor worked our perfect for this recipe.
- Use a large freezer bag or a large piping bag to stuff the shells! Simply add the Tofu Ricotta to the freezer bag, then snip about 1cm off one of the edges and use it like a piping bad to stuff the shells. This will end up being much less messy!
If you try out this recipe be sure to leave a star rating and review so I know exactly what to create next for you!
Tofu Ricotta Stuffed Shells
Basil Tofu Ricotta
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 medium shallots, roughly chopped
- 2 blocks (350g each) firm or extra firm tofu
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast *Optional but adds more cheesy flavour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Pinch black pepper
- 25 jumbo/large pasta shells (cook extra incase some break)
- 4 cups fresh spinach
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan (Plus extra for topping)
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 jar (650ml) tomato basil sauce Or homemade!
Make the Jumbo Shells
- Start by cooking the shells to al dente according to the package instructions. While the shells cook, wilt the spinach. Heat a pan with a drizzle of oil to medium heat, add the spinach and stir until completely wilted. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Once the shells have finished cooking, strain and add to a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent them from sticking together. Set aside and let cool. You could also stick the shells in the freezer for about 10 minutes to cool more quickly.
Make the Basil Tofu Ricotta
- To a food processor or blender add the roughly chopped garlic cloves and shallots. Pulse a few times until they are chopped into small pieces.
- Add the remaining ingredients for the tofu ricotta and blend until smooth. You do not want large chunks of garlic or shallot remaining. Set aside.
Stuff the Shells
- Set your oven to 375F and get a 12 x 8 baking dish ready. To your tofu ricotta mixture, add the parmesan, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, the wilted spinach, and the egg. Mix together until ingredients are incorporated evenly.
- Add a thin layer of tomato sauce to the bottom of the baking dish. Next, stuff the shells, placing each one seam side up in 5 x 5 lines. You could use a spoon to stuff each shell, or to reduce mess, add the mixture to a large Ziploc bag, cut off one corner and use like a piping bag to stuff the shells.
- Once the shells are all stuffed and in the baking dish, add a layer of tomato sauce on top and the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella. Cover with tin foil and place in the oven for 22-25 minutes. Remove the foil, and place back in the oven to bake for another 10-15 minutes unitl the cheese is melted and golden brown.
- Serve immediately with more fresh parmesan, basil, and tomato sauce with a simple side salad. Enjoy!