June 14, 2021

Vegan Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash Alfredo & Tofu Ricotta

Vegan Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash Alfredo is the best comfort food casserole to feed a big crowd! Filled with spinach and creamy tofu “ricotta,” this stuffed shells recipe is an all-time family favorite. Use Pumpkin or other winter squash.

overhead shot of vegan stuffed shells with tofu ricotta and butternut squash

overhead shot of vegan stuffed shells with tofu ricotta and butternut squash

Coming at you with a classic Italian comfort food classic with a seasonal twist! Vegan Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash!

These vegan butternut squash stuffed shells are bursting with creamy dairy-free tofu ricotta and spinach and baked in a velvety smooth and cheesy butternut squash alfredo sauce. Perfect for holiday gatherings, family dinners, date night…really any occasion that begs for some serious vegan comfort food!

a spoon holding a vegan stuffed shell filled with tofu ricotta

a spoon holding a vegan stuffed shell filled with tofu ricotta

Let’s talk about the tofu ricotta. I’m constantly blown away by the wonders of tofu. If you are skeptical whether this is not gonna end up being all weird and tasteless – never fear! The tofu combined with nutritional yeast, almond flour, Italian seasonings, lemon and tofu makes for the perfect ricotta substitute. A bit tangy, a bit cheesy but very mild in taste. Some spinach in it makes the filling incredibly delicious. And less or more spinach to preference.

The butternut alfredo is adapted from my creamy butternut carbonara. That sauce is so delicious and works amazingly here. Use pumpkin or other winter squash if you like! Stuffed Shells usually end up taking long prep times because you pre-cook the pasta and the sauce. In this recipe I am using uncooked pasta! that gets cooked with the sauce while baking just like my baked rigatoni recipe. No dealing with large pots of hot water!

overhead shot of vegan stuffed shells with butternut squash, spinach and vegan ricotta

overhead shot of vegan stuffed shells with butternut squash, spinach and vegan ricotta
By the way, this stuffed shells recipe would also work for making cannelloni – simply stuff the cannelloni pasta with the ricotta filling as you would for the shells and bake in the alfredo sauce. Baking time might vary slightly.

MORE VEGAN PASTA RECIPES FROM THE BLOG:

vegan ricotta stuffed shells being served with a silver serving spoon

vegan ricotta stuffed shells being served with a silver serving spoon

vegan butternut squash & tofu ricotta stuffed shells on a white plate

vegan butternut squash & tofu ricotta stuffed shells on a white plate

Vegan Butternut & Tofu Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Vegan Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash Alfredo is the best comfort food casserole to feed a big crowd! Filled with spinach and creamy tofu “ricotta,” this stuffed shells recipe is an all-time family favorite. Can use pumpkin or other wint squash.

Prep Time15 mins

Cook Time51 mins

Total Time1 hr 6 mins

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: Italian

Keyword: butternut squash stuffed shells, vegan stuffed shells

Servings: 6

Calories: 252kcal

Author: Vegan Richa

Ingredients

For the butternut squash alfredo:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage
  • 1/4 tsp each of red pepper flakes and black pepper
  • 1/4 salt
  • 1/3 cup (43 g) of cashews
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 cups (280 g) of cubed butternut squash
  • 1 1/4 cup (295.74 ml) stock
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp miso optional

For the tofu ricotta:

  • 8-9 ounces (226.8 g) of firm tofu pressed for 10 minutes.
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • zest of a quarter of a lemon
  • 3 tbsp almond flour
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tbs fresh basil
  • 3 oz (85.05 g) of fresh or frozen thawed, and squeezed-out spinach.

Other

  • 16 jumbo shells
  • 1 cup veggie stock
  • fresh sage, vegan Parmesan, pepper flakes for garnish

Instructions

Instructions for the butternut squash alfredo:

  • Heat a skillet over medium heat, add the oil, onion, garlic, sage, and salt and cook until golden.

  • Then add in the pepper, cashews, butternut squash and mix well and cook for 1 minute. Then add in the nutritional yeast, vegetable broth, lemon juice, miso, and mix well. Cover and cook until the butternut squash is tender, about 9-10 minutes. Take off the heat and let it cool completely. Then blend until smooth and set aside.

For the tofu ricotta:

  • In a food processor, add the tofu and the rest of the ingredients, except spinach, and process until the mixture is well blended, then add the spinach and pulse a few times, so that the spinach is incorporated evenly, and set aside.

  • Take about 15-20 shells, these are uncooked shells. Then press the tofu ricotta into the shells.

  • Grease a 9 by 11 inch baking dish. Transfer half of the butternut squash into the baking dish, and assemble and place the shells in the sauce.

  • Gently add 1 cup of veggie broth around so that the shells are more than 3/4 submerged in the water sauce mixture.

  • Cover the baking dish with foil and bake at 400 degrees F ( 205 C) for 35-40 minutes. You can check at 35 minutes to see if the shells are done. The top of the shells might be slightly crispy, but the rest of the shells that touched liquid should be done.

  • Remove the dish from the oven and let it sit covered for another 10 minutes. Open the lid, and sprinkle some olive oil, or vegan parmesan, and pepper flakes on top. Add some sage or fresh basil. To serve, serve the shells with the reserved butternut squash sauce. If the butternut squash sauce has thickened too much, you can add in some broth to thin it out to drizzle it all over the shells and serve. The shells will keep in the fridge for 3 days

Notes

  • The casserole will keep in the fridge for 3 days
  • Save time by making the sauce and tofu ricotta a day in advance. The sauce will thicken up in the fridge, so you may need to thin it with a bit of non-dairy milk or broth before assembling the dish.
  • Leftover stuffed shells are freezer-friendly. Just seal them up and freeze. Then, when you’re ready to eat them, thaw and microwave or bake until they’re hot.
  • Soy free: use store bought vegan ricotta or homemade cashew or almond ricotta. Omit the miso
  • Nut-free : use pumpkin seeds or silken tofu instead of cashews in the alfredo. Omit almond flour from tofu ricotta
  • You can use kabocha squash or even pumpkin instead of butternut squash.
  • Make sure to squeeze out all the liquid from the spinach and press the tofu. We want to get rid of all unnecessary water. 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts

Vegan Butternut & Tofu Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Amount Per Serving

Calories 252 Calories from Fat 90

% Daily Value*

Fat 10g15%

Saturated Fat 1g6%

Sodium 426mg19%

Potassium 448mg13%

Carbohydrates 30g10%

Fiber 4g17%

Sugar 3g3%

Protein 12g24%

Vitamin A 6447IU129%

Vitamin C 16mg19%

Calcium 113mg11%

Iron 3mg17%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Ingredients used for making vegan Stuffed Shells with butternut squash alfredo:

For the butternut squash alfredo:

  • finely chopped onion and garlic fried in olive oil with some garlic, sage and pepper are the base for the butternut squash alfredo
  • cashews nuts add the creaminess to the sauce. We don’t need to soak them as they are cooking in the sauce.
  • I like to add some nutritional yeast as well as miso paste for that cheesy flavor and to up the umami
  • I used fresh butternut squash for the alfredo sauce but you can use frozen
  • We add a bit of stock to the sauce get that perfectly smooth texture
  • lemon juice

For the tofu ricotta 

  • firm tofu, pressed for 10 minutes to remove the water.
  • almond flour thickens the vegan cheese mix a bit
  • to get that cheesy taste we add some nutritional yeast
  • like with traditional spinach & ricotta stuffed shells we add some fresh of frozen spinach to the mix. Make sure to squeeze out all the water from the spinach
  • seasonings are lemon juice, lemon zest, oregano, garlic, and basil

Tips & Substitutions:

  • Save time by making the sauce and tofu ricotta a day in advance. The sauce will thicken up in the fridge, so you may need to thin it with a bit of non-dairy milk or broth before assembling the dish.
  • Leftover stuffed shells are freezer-friendly. Just seal them up and freeze. Then, when you’re ready to eat them, thaw and microwave or bake until they’re hot.
  • Not into tofu? Leave it out and use homemade cashew or almond ricotta instead.
  • Instead of miso paste, just add more nutritional yeast.
  • You can use kabocha squash or even pumpkin instead of butternut squash.
  • Make sure to squeeze out all the liquid from the spinach and press the tofu. We want to get rid of all unnecessary water.

How to make Vegan Butternut Squash stuffed shells

mis en place for vegan stuffed shells recipe

mis en place for vegan stuffed shells recipe

Instructions for the butternut squash alfredo:

Heat a skillet over medium heat, add the oil, onion, garlic, sage, pepper flakes, salt and cook until golden.
Then add in the pepper, cashews, butternut squash and mix well and cook for 1 minute. Then add in the nutritional yeast, vegetable broth, lemon juice, miso, and mix well. Cover and cook until the butternut squash is tender, about 9-10 minutes. Take off the heat and let it cool completely. Then blend until smooth and set aside.

For the tofu ricotta:

In a food processor, add the tofu and the rest of the ingredients, except spinach, and process until the mixture is well blended, then add the spinach and pulse a few times, so that the spinach is incorporated evenly, and set aside.

shell pasta being stuffed with tofu ricotta spinach mix

shell pasta being stuffed with tofu ricotta spinach mix

Take about 15-20 shells, these are uncooked shells. press the tofu ricotta into the shells.

overhead shot of vegan tofu ricotta stuffed shells on butternut squash alfredo

overhead shot of vegan tofu ricotta stuffed shells on butternut squash alfredo

Transfer half of the butternut squash sauce into a 9×11 baking dish, or larger, and assemble and place the shells in the sauce.

overhead shot of casserole dish with vegan stuffed shells before baking

overhead shot of casserole dish with vegan stuffed shells before baking

Gently add one cup of veggie broth around so that the shells are more than 3/4 submerged in the water sauce mixture.

a casserole dish covered with aluminum foil

a casserole dish covered with aluminum foil

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 35-40 minutes. You can check at 35 minutes to see if the shells are done.

baked vegan stuffed shells in a casserole dish

baked vegan stuffed shells in a casserole dish

The top of the shells might be slightly crispy if they were not immersed in the sauce but the rest of the shell should be done.

overhead shot of a casserole dish with vegan ricotta stuffed shells with butternut alfredo

overhead shot of a casserole dish with vegan ricotta stuffed shells with butternut alfredo

Remove the dish from the oven and let it sit covered for another 10 minutes. Open the lid, and sprinkle some olive oil, or vegan parmesan, and pepper flakes on top.

Add some sage or fresh basil.

a serving of vegan stuffed shells

a serving of vegan stuffed shells

To serve, serve the shells with some of the butternut squash sauce. If the butternut squash sauce has thickened too much, you can add in some broth to thin it out to drizzle it all over the shells and serve. The dish will keep in the fridge for 3 days

butternut squash alfredo sauce being drizzled on vegan stuffed shells on a white plate

butternut squash alfredo sauce being drizzled on vegan stuffed shells on a white plate

HOW TO STORE vegan stuffed shells:

This vegan pasta bake can be frozen. Once cooked, let it cool completely, then cover tightly with foil and freeze. When ready to serve, bake at 350 degrees for 20 mins or until warm. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days, making it a great meal prep for lunches.

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