This quick and easy dish is a favorite in my cooking classes. Pasta shells stuffed with light and fluffy (and vegan!) Almond Ricotta and liberally doused with marinara sauce is a truly satisfying entrée. Although this recipe calls for large pasta shells, feel free to substitute other large stuff able shapes, such as manicotti or cannelloni. Recipe adapted from Artisan Vegan Cheese* by Miyoko Schinner, ©2012 Book Publishing Company, reprinted by permission.
Vegan Stuffed Shells with Almond "Ricotta"
Serves: 6 to 8
- 8 oz large pasta shells
- Almond Ricotta (see recipe, following)
- ¼ cup slivered fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
- 1–2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups marinara sauce, your favorite brand or homemade
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a little salt if desired, then add the pasta shells. Return to a boil. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but firm, about 12 minutes or according to package directions.
- Put the ricotta, basil, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and garlic in a large bowl and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat the over to 375°F. Stuff the cooked pasta shells with the filling, dividing it evenly among them, about 2 tablespoons per shell.
- Spread a cup of the marinara sauce evenly in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan, then arrange the stuffed shells atop the marinara sauce.
- Pour the remaining marinara sauce over the pasta shells. Cover and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until hot and bubbling. Serve immediately.
Whether this creamy ricotta is used in lasagna or ravioli, no one would guess that it's made from almonds. It looks amazingly like dairy ricotta and has a similar texture to boot: fluffy with a slight graininess. It's delicious in all sorts of savory dishes and desserts, but I also recommend trying it on its own as a spread for your morning toast with a bit of jam.
Makes about 4 cups
- 2 cups blanched almonds (see note), soaked in water for 8–12 hours and drained
- 1 cup water
- Put the almonds, water, and a pinch of salt in a blender.
- Process until light, fluffy, and fairly creamy but not perfectly smooth, occasionally stopping to scrape down the blender jar and move the mixture toward the blades.
- Taste and stir in more salt if desired.
Storage Notes: Stored in a covered container in the refrigerator, Almond Ricotta will keep for about 1 week.
Note: You can also use raw almonds with skins. After soaking, their skins should slip off easily. Simply squeeze one almond at a time between your thumb and index finger. But be careful, or the almonds are likely the shoot across the room! If the skins don't come off easily, pour boiling water over the almonds to cover. Let soak for 1 to 2 minutes, then drain. As soon as they're cool enough to handle, it will be easy to skin them.