Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Vegan (Whole-Lotta-Notta) Ricotta Stuffed Shells

The one thing I don't miss about skipping the cheese, dairy, and butter is the "pasta hangover." It's not the carbohydrates that make you feel weighed down. It's the fat and cholesterol laden sauces. Choosing plant based replacements leave you feeling light, energized, completely satisfied.

Turns out firm and extra firm crumbled has a similar texture as ricotta cheese. Add herbs, garlic, and onions and you have a vegan ricotta to use in lasagna, as a dip, or in stuffed shells.

Vegan (Whole-Lotta-Notta) Ricotta Stuffed Shells
Serves 6

1 pound jumbo shells
1 24oz jar of your favorite pasta sauce

Vegan Ricotta
1 12-14oz package firm or extra firm tofu (either the shelf stable tofu or refrigerated tofu will work here)
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon miso paste (I prefer white miso)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 - 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 cup fresh spinach

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees farenheit.
2. Saute chopped onions and mushrooms in a skillet over medium heat until soft. Remove from heat.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add shells and cook about 12 minutes until tender. Avoid overcooking as they will cook more in the oven. Drain and let cool.
4. To make the ricotta, blend in a food processor (or other blender type) the onions, mushrooms, garlic, lemon juice, miso, basil, spinach, and pepper until a paste forms. Add a tablespoon of olive oil or water if too thick. Add tofu to mix and mash with a fork until ricotta texture is reached.
5. Pour a light layer of pasta sauce on bottom of 9x13 pan. Spoon ricotta mixture into the shells. Place stuffed shells in pan and then spoon more sauce on top. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the shells are light brown on top and the ricotta is heated through, about an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and top with additional sauce if desired when serving. 

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