Vegan-friendly ‘ricotta’ and spinach shell pasta bake

Jan 03, 2022
This delicious 'ricotta' and spinach shell pasta bake is suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Source: Getty Images

This is a rich, decadent and moreish meal that will get even the staunchest meat eater’s stamp of approval. It’s so perfectly flavoured they you don’t even notice it’s entirely plant-based and packed with protein!

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients

FOR THE PASTA SHELLS

  • 25x jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 400g firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup vegan cheese or cream cheese (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Pepper to taste

FOR THE PASTA SAUCE

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1x 400g can tomatoes, crushed or chopped
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp thyme

FOR THE TOPPING

  • Additional vegan cheese or cream cheese
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes
  • Herbs

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Cook pasta according to packet instructions, making sure the shells are only al dente.
  3. To prepare shell filling, heat oil in a large fry pan over high heat. Add onion and sauté for 2 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and spinach and sauté for 2 minutes or until spinach is wilted.
  4. Add spinach mixture to a food processor with the tofu, nutritional yeast, vegan cheese (if using), salt and pepper. Process until it turns into a chunky paste. Set aside.
  5. To make pasta sauce, heat oil in a large fry pan over high heat. Add onion and sauté for 2 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add tomatoes, oregano and thyme. Cook for 1 minute until all the ingredients are combined.
  6. Pour half the tomato sauce into a large casserole dish.
  7. Carefully fill each pasta shell with the tofu spinach mixture. Place shells in the casserole dish on the tomato sauce. Cover pasta shells with remaining sauce. If desired, crumble some vegan cheese, cherry tomatoes and herbs on top.
  8. Lightly cover the pasta shells and bake for 20-30 minutes or until bubbling. Serve immediately

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