Thursday, November 4, 2010

Vegan MoFo! Day 4: Stuffed Shells Because I Love You

This recipe is another one among my favorites, right up there with kale salad and Death Row Mac 'n Cheese. I must credit my former housemate, Muckford, for discovering the original recipe somewhere on the internet a while ago. I've modified it slightly, but only slightly. This is another one of those recipes that delights vegans, omnivores, and Italian families alike.

In fact, legend has it that one of my uncles, a lover of all dishes meat-and-cheese-related, had no idea this was vegan until I told him. After he ate a plateful. I believe his words were something like, "This is vegan, really?! It tasted exactly the same as regular stuffed shells." Hell, I'm betting even babies and dogs would love these shells, but please, please, don't test that hypothesis. Because I love it so much, let's repeat that one sentence real quick: "This is vegan, really?! It tasted exactly the same as regular stuffed shells."

I am tagging this as "students," too, because it can be made cheaply, and we all know students are poor.

The following, I share with you, because, CYoFC readers, I do love you. <3

V e g a n  S t u f f e d  S h e l l s


About 40 jumbo shells
3 jars tomato sauce
2 pounds firm tofu
2-3 cups of baby spinach (optional)
1 & 1/3 cups low-fat vegan mayonnaise
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons dried parsley
4 teaspoons dried basil
4 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder

NOTE: If you don't want to make this much (the above serves about 12), just halve all of the ingredients. Don't forget to halve the seasonings and salts, though!

  • Cook the pasta according to directions the on the box
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  • Drain the tofu well and pat dry. With a fork (or potato masher), mash the tofu, vegan mayonnaise, nutritional yeast, salt and seasonings together until the texture resembles ricotta vegan cheese. Yep, no blender or food processor needed here. OPTIONAL: include 2 cups of baby spinach leaves in the mix before you mash it.
  • Cover the bottom of a large baking dish with a thin layer of pasta sauce. Using a small spoon, fill each shell with a scoop of the tofu mixture. Lay each stuffed shell gently on top of the pasta sauce, seam facing up. (FYI: The original recipe said seam facing down, so choose what you will.)
  • When the baking pan is full, pour the rest of the tomato sauce evenly over the shells. Sprinkle with a small amount of nutritional yeast. OPTIONAL: gently arrange a baby spinach leaf over each shell. The vein of the leaf should run perpendicularly to the seam of the shell. This will make your tray of shells look prettier, and your friends/family may think these are actually basil leaves. Mine did. Extra cooking cred points, score.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or so.  

This looks complicated and daunting, but really, the basic steps are 1) cook the pasta, 2) mash together the fillings, 3) put sauce and pasta in the tray, 4) fill pasta, 5) cover pasta with more sauce, 6) bake.

In da tray.

What do I mean by "jumbo shells," you ask? Here's a photo:  

There they are, looking all jumbo and menacing.
Yep, that's an American flag napkin. I made these for our 4th of July party like two years ago. When I was in preschool, I used to do stuff like refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance or sing My Country 'Tis of Thee, so making "foreign" food on a patriotic holiday is pretty standard for me.

iMangia, my pretties! 



  1. I love that you refused to say the Pledge when you were little. Well-behaved women rarely make history and these shells are historical. I've definitely made them (thanks to your recipe) with much success. The way the innards (heheh, ironic because they're vegan!) resemble ricotta is phenomenal and makes me wonder what else you could cook with that...emphasis on the YOU. Because I do love you only for your cooking.

    Idea: authentic vegan cannoli (because real cannoli are stuffed with ricotta).

  2. I too refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Even as a young kid the "under g-d" part skeeved me out...some things never change!

    Another recipe that made me drool! I will not even pretend to be even an iota of the cook you are but I definitely can bake mean double chocolate peanut butter cookies sandwiched with peanut butter buttercream, chai tea cupcakes, etc. and I love making boozy punches.

    If you can't already tell, I am attempting to show my worth as a good dinner guest!

  3. These shells are indeed awesome :) Thanks for giving me credit for introducing you to them. I, too, have had the highly amusing experience of tofu-spurning party-goers asking in awe after they've eaten a plateful, "WHAT??? Vegan?!! What do you mean that wasn't ricotta?"

  4. I have never made stuffed shells, but you have made it look simple enough that I will now. :) I did make a lasagna on Halloween for friends who did not realize it was tofu "cheese" and "meat" until the next day when they read my blog! lol!

  5. I've been on a stuffed shells kick lately, and I love the looks of your recipe - so simple! I'm gonna try it. Thanks for sharing!

  6. @queerveganrunner: I try to misbehave as much as I can possibly get away with. I like the cannoli idea. Maybe I can sub sweeter spices for the ones in the shells.

    @Bess: Um, CHAI cupcakes and stuff with peanutbutter cream in it? Boozey punch? You've already MORE than proven your worth as a dinner guest, and that's not even counting the oh-so-generous compliments you gave. ;)

    @Muckford: I love that you had a similar experience with a shocked omnivore! It's so funny how much these shells amaze people. One holiday, I was making them with my mom and I had to keep shooing her away from eating all the "ricotta" with her spoon!

    @Connie: It's very easy to do, trust me! If you try it, let me know how it goes! And that's hilarious that people didn't even find out the "secret" until they read your blog...Way to fool 'em!!!

    @Trina: Welcome!!! And thanks! Please do try it and let me know how it goes! :)