You know me.
I love a good trick.
I also love a good deal.
This meal is both.
Really, this recipe is all about taking that old standby classic of stuffed shells and making it lighter! The shells have the same creamy, garlicky filling that we all know and love – but the creaminess is made out of tofu and nutritional yeast (find out more about nutritional yeast at the end of the blog post!). Sounds weird, I know. But I really hope you’ll give these guys a try.
I debated whether to tell Jason about my little trick before or after he ate these.
I decided to tell him before.
He was wary, but he ate the three shells I served him.
He went back for seconds.
Then he went back for thirds.
I fed these shells to my tofu-hating husband.
He ate 12 shells.
The next day, he ate 6.
He finished off the pan yesterday by eating 7 shells.
I think he liked them.
And when I told him that it was all done for less than $10 total? (that's less than $1.25 per serving, btw!)
I think he loved them.
Vegan Stuffed Shells
Filling slightly adapted from Jenna
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tsp. salt
1 tbs. fresh oregano, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried oregano)
16 ounces extra firm tofu
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs. nutritional yeast
10 ounces frozen spinach
1 box jumbo shells
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 medium can diced tomatoes
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. dried basil
2 tbs. dried oregano
1 tbs. dried parsley
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (adjust for less or more spice)
1 tbs. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
Set a large pot of water to boil.
While pasta water comes to a boil, heat olive oil in medium saucepan, over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Add both cans of tomatoes, then season with spices. Stir well, then allow come to a very slow boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least 10 minutes. Salt boiling water, then add pasta shells. Stir gently.
While sauce simmers and the pasta shells cook, you can prepare the filling. Start off by draining all the water out of the tofu package, then wrap in paper towels. Working over the sink, squish the tofu with the paper towels to get more liquid out of it. Place in the bowl of a food processor.
Add the nutritional yeast, the olive oil, and the salt, oregano, and garlic cloves. Process on high until the mixture is relatively smooth and similar in texture to ricotta. Add in the defrosted mixture and pulse to combine.
Once shells are cooked through (around 10 minutes - you want them to still have a crunchiness to them, since they'll cook more while in the oven), drain, then rinse with cold water to cool.
Spoon sauce into the bottom of a glass or ceramic baking dish, just to cover the bottom.
Fill shells, one at a time, with around 2 tbs. filling.
Place, seam down, in the baking dish.
Pour the rest of the pasta sauce over the shells, using a spatula to ensure even coverage. Cover pan(s) with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Who knew that vegan food could be so delicious?
These shells are so good. My Texas-bred, meat-eating husband loved them. He said that he didn't even miss the cheese. He went back for thirds in one meal. He asked me if I could make these again next week.
Such tricksters, these little shells.
What the heck is Nutritional Yeast?
I buy my nutritional yeast from the bulk section at Sunflower Farmer's Market. I've also seen it in the Bob's Red Mill section, as well as on the baking aisle. It is lightly orange-ish in color and smells quite cheesy. This was my first time cooking with it, and I was really pleased with the results!
Nutritional Yeast is packed full of protein; there are 8 grams of complete protein per 2 tbs. serving. Nutritional Yeast is kosher, gluten-free, and contains 15 different minerals. It is also completely animal-free, which makes it good for both vegetarians and vegans (and even meat-eaters) and contains important B vitamins.