There’s nothing quite like the delicious flavors and comforting feeling of Italian-American cuisine.
The explosions of different notes from tomatoes, garlic, and cheese make for some of the most memorable meals. This is especially true for those who enjoy these dishes on holidays and special occasions. The very thought of going vegan can be scary if you think that you’ll have to give up these foods that you’ve grown up with and continue to enjoy.
Luckily, it’s easy to veganize Italian-American dishes such as these Stuffed Shells and make them even better than the real thing! We’ve perfected the vegan version of Stuffed Shells in our household over at Thrive Cuisine and are thrilled to share it with the world.
I’ve served this to many of my Italian relatives who are frankly kind of snobby when it comes to food. None of them could tell it apart from the “real” thing. Feel free to experiment with the ricotta cheese and use it to make other dishes such as Baked Ziti or Stuffed Manicotti!
Vegan Ricotta Cheese Pasta
Soak cashews for 1 hour to soften for processing.
Begin the sauce by adding olive oil to a pot along with the minced garlic and onion with a pinch of salt and pepper on medium heat. Once garlic and onion are fragrant and translucent add the tomato paste, wine (optional) and crushed tomatoes. Stir thoroughly and cover the pot. Turn heat to low and let cook for 1-2 hours or more for a greater depth of flavor.
Combine the softened cashews (remove water) as well as the rest of the cheese ingredients to a food processor. Ensure tofu is drained and do not add any extra liquid. Process until mixture is a smooth texture like ricotta cheese. If a little extra liquid is needed for your food processor or blender be sure to add it very sparingly and slowly.
Cook the pasta in boiling water until soft enough to handle then cool with running cold water in a colander.
Once pasta is easy to handle, stuff cheese mixture into all of the shells and lay out on a semi-deep pan.
Cover stuffed shells with sauce and cook in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees to get a slight crisp on the pasta.
Garnish with basil and serve.
Joey Bruno, owner of ThriveCuisine.com, holds a master’s degree in Nutrition & Food Science from Montclair State University. He’s a foodie and wannabe vegan chef. He currently lives in Delaware with his wife and likes to go for long walks with his dog and practice jiu-jitsu in his spare time.