Updated: Feb 25, 2021
You have to try this VEGAN MUSHROOM & SPINACH RICOTTA STUFFED PASTA SHELLS recipe... it will blow you away!
I was invited to try the new Prego+ line of pasta sauces that are made using plant protein and including 6 hidden veggies. And I immediately thought of making these delicious stuffed shells.
Before we get to the recipe, let me tell you a bit about the Prego+ sauces. Though the company already had some sauces that were vegan, this is the first time that they have put out a product line that uses plant-based protein (pea protein, to be exact) to up the nutritional value of their Plant Protein variety. Plus, this variety features another innovation: their first all-vegan Meatless Meat flavored sauce. This sauce includes textured soy protein to mimic the flavor and texture of meat (trust me, it does!). Finally, the Super Hidden Veggies variety includes 6 super veggies in every jar: sweet potato, carrot, cauliflower, butternut squash, spinach and roasted red peppers. A great way to get more vegetables in your daily meals.
But, let’s get to the recipe!
Speaking of packing in a lot of vegetables and protein, the vegan ricotta that fills these pasta shells is made using tofu, loads of spinach and mushrooms, nutritional yeast, and not much else! It is packed with good-for-you nutrition!
Just sauté the vegetables and add them to the tofu in a food processor and process until smooth. The result is a delicious veggie-loaded ricotta that you’ll want to put on everything!
It is great for vegan lasagnas too! So, save this recipe for the next time you decide to make one. You’re welcome! 😉
Once your ricotta is done, all that’s left is to boil your shells so you can stuff them. Make sure you boil the pasta just until al dente. The pasta will cook a bit more in the oven, and it is easier to handle for stuffing while it’s still al dente. It should only take about 8 minutes in boiling water for them to be perfect for filling and baking.
When ready, assemble your dish by placing a layer of your pasta sauce in the bottom of your baking tray. I used the Prego+ Plant Protein Meatless Meat sauce. The ‘meaty’ texture goes well with the soft ricotta filling. Then, stuff the shells and pour more sauce over them, and top off with shredded vegan mozzarella for extra cheesiness!
One last tip (which works well for any baked dish with vegan cheese) is to bake covered and uncover towards the end of baking time. Vegan cheese doesn’t always cook the same as regular cheese. So, I’ve found that covering the dish or tray allows the heat to melt the cheese before the direct oven heat makes it crispy and golden. Again, you’re welcome!
But, that’s enough talking! Let’s get cooking!
VEGAN MUSHROOM & SPINACH RICOTTA STUFFED PASTA SHELLS
WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
For the vegan ricotta:
1 block firm tofu, pressed
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
Pepper to taste
1 Cup onion, chopped
1 Cup mushrooms, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
6 generous handfuls of spinach
1 Tbsp olive oil
For the pasta:
Jumbo pasta shells (vegan)
1 jar Prego+ Plant Protein Meatless Meat sauce (you may not need to use the full jar)
Salt for pasta water
Vegan mozzarella shreds (optional)
Vegan parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil for garnish (optional)
HOW TO MAKE IT:
Make the ricotta base first by placing the tofu, nutritional yeast, Italian seasoning, lemon juice, one clove garlic, olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Process until smooth.
Leave mixture in the food processor and heat some oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook with the onions until fragrant (about one minute).
Add the chopped mushrooms and add salt, pepper or any seasoning you want at this point to increase flavor. Cook until mushrooms have released their moisture and it has evaporated.
Add the spinach to the skillet with the onion and mushrooms, and cook until wilted. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit before transferring to the food processor with the ricotta. Process until smooth and well incorporated.
Bring a pot of water to a fast boil and add a generous amount of salt for flavor and to prevent the pasta from sticking.
Boil the pasta shells for 8 minutes only to make sure they are al dente. Then, drain pasta using a colander and rinse the pasta with cold water to stop the cooking process.
Preheat your oven to 375°F.
Cover the bottom of a deep lasagna baking tray with the pasta sauce, and spread to cover completely.
Using a spoon, carefully stuff each shell with about one to one and a half tablespoons of the ricotta. It helps to gently squeeze the narrow ends of the shell together so it opens up for easier filling.
Place each stuffed shell side by side on the tray covered with the sauce. Once done, pour more pasta sauce over the shells. Then shred or sprinkle some vegan mozzarella on top.
Cover the baking tray with aluminum foil and place in the oven to bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil when there are 10 minutes left of baking time.
Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before serving.
Sprinkle some vegan parmesan and chopped fresh basil, and enjoy!
Recipe yields 4 servings
(about 6 stuffed shells per serving) Approximate nutrition information per serving: 609 calories, 30g protein, 87g carbohydrates, 18g fat.
Let me know if you make this! Tag me by using @mindfulgrub or the hashtag #mindfulgrub when you share your creations on social media. I‘d love to hear how it went for you!
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