Vegan Stuffed Shells

I grew up on the East Coast in Massachusetts. My family was mixed Irish/Italian which meant we ate hearty, stick to your ribs, comfort food like roasted meats, melted cheese, potatoes and pasta. Winters were harsh and many East Coasters did outdoor activities like skiing or snowboarding to cope with the long, cold winters. Not me, what I did was hibernate. The only things I liked about that season was eating for sport and marathon reading sessions. As a child, I had a robust appetite which I was always praised for. In Winters, my Mom, Grandmothers and Aunts would whip out the serious good eats like lasagna, manicotti, stuffed shells and baked ziti. I worshipped this kind of food, the rich tomato sauces, velvety ricotta cheese, melty and stretchy mozzarella and my first true love, pasta. Sometimes I would get to help with the preparation which I relished. The ultimate reward for helping to make the food was gorging on the end result; the glorious, steaming tray pasta swimming in a sea of cheese. I would eat with abandon until I could no longer breathe and my pants would need unbuckling. My small child belly would be simultaneously singing with joy and crying in discomfort from the relentless assault of overindulgence in cheese. (I have a mild dairy intolerance)

In my mind, there is nothing more comforting or decadent than stuffed and baked pasta. In an attempt to mimic the positive parts of my childhood experience, I have devised a vegan alternative which involves zero cheese substitutes and is much easier on my belly and waistline. The texture of crumbled tofu mimics that of ricotta and the addition of diced, flavorful and colorful vegetables makes it not only pleasing to the palette but also to the eye. The quick tomato sauce checks all the boxes; tangy, slightly sweet, zesty and garlicky. The best thing about it is you can have it on the table in less than an hour, steaming and smelling spectacular and making some great new memories with your family. And since it is full of garden veggies, it doesn’t have to be reserved for winter. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do. Mangia

Vegan Stuffed Shells

Vegan twist of the classic comfort food
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: comfortfood, Easy, hearty, pasta, quick, tofu, vegan
Servings: 5

Equipment

  • stovetop and oven

Ingredients

  • 1 pound shell pasta
  • 1 pound extra firm tofu
  • 1 large can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 each zuchinni
  • 3 each baby bell peppers
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1 pinch turbinado sugar
  • 1 ea shallot
  • 1/2 cup mixed herbs or arugula for garnish
  • 1 ea salt to taste

Instructions

  • 1. For filling: Chop 1 shallot, 3 baby bell peppers, 1 zucchini, and whatever other veggies in small cubes, season with salt, pepper and garlic powder and sauté in olive oil until half cooked then add one block of crumbled extra firm tofu and cook five more minutes and set aside.
  • 2. Cook shells according to package and set aside
  • 3. For sauce: Sauté 4 cloves chopped garlic, 1 pinch of crushed red pepper and 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning in extra virgin olive oil until toasty and fragrant. Thats right, I am telling you to toast the spices also, sounds weird but the smell in the air will tell you otherwise. Add one can of fire roasted crushed tomatoes a pinch of salt and a pinch of turbinado sugar, bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer while shells finish cooking
  • 4. Stuff shells with tofu and veggie mix, drizzle or drown in sauce however you like it and bake in a 375 oven for 15 minutes covered. 
    5. Garnish with herbs and devour.