Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Vegan Stuffed Shells

Before my dairy free days one of my  favorite meals was stuffed shells. I would always order it when we ate at Italian restaurants, and after I got married I started making it at home quite often. It's been about 5 years since I last had this dish and I have really missed it. I made it last night for dinner using an old recipe but subbing tofu for ricotta and omitting the egg.  My oldest daughter, my youngest daughter, and I loved it.  My husband doesn't like tofu at all under any circumstances so it wasn't one of his favorite meals but he said it was a really good substitute for the real thing. My 5 year old... well she's 5.  And she hates spinach. But she did eat around the spinach so that's a dinner win.

Vegan Stuffed Shells:
1 package extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 bag frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
1 box jumbo pasta shells
Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast ( to add cheese flavor)
3 cloves garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce- I used Bertolli Tomato and Basil

 Press your tofu to get all the extra water out.  I wrap it in paper towels first then place it on a plate and put my cast iron skillet and a heavy cookbook on it.  Works like a charm!

While that is left to sit for a few minutes, cook the shells according to the directions on the box and defrost the spinach.  Make sure to squeeze as much of the water out of the spinach as you can.  When the noodles are cooked drain them and set  aside to cool a bit.

Make your "cheese" filling.  In a food processor add your tofu and pulse a couple of times.  

Add 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, 3 cloves of garlic, 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and process until it has a ricotta like consistency.  Add more olive oil if needed.  
Why yes, that is a box of Pops in the background.  

Add in your spices- basil, oregano, and thyme ( I love thyme and add it to so many things). Pulse to combine them.  Add in your spinach.  I added the entire bag because I happen to really love spinach.  You could add just half a bag and it would be plenty.  Last, add salt and pepper to taste. Pulse to combine all the ingredients.  Once it's the consistency you want, it's ready to go.

Coat the bottom of a large casserole dish with your pasta sauce.  Stuff each shell with about a tablespoon     ( or a little more) of the filling.  Lay them open side up in the pan.  Once they are all stuffed pour the remaining sauce over top of the shells.

Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes.

Dinner was the stuffed shells, oven roasted green beans, and a dairy free french bread, which will be included in my Friday Favorites post.  My oldest daughter had seconds, and my toddler cleaned her plate.  I guess this can be called a kid friendly meal, especially great for dairy free kids.  And it's totally vegan.  I can't wait for leftovers for lunch!

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