Recipe courtesy of Clara Polito

Cashew Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Embrace your inner Italian nonna with these surprisingly creamy stuffed shells using a flavorful, cashew-based ricotta.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 35 min (plus soaking time)
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 medium yellow onion, chopped 

3 cloves garlic, minced 

1/4 cup tomato paste 

One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes 

Kosher salt 

10 basil leaves 

8 ounces dried pasta shells 

2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water overnight 

1/4 cup lemon juice 

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 

Dried oregano, for sprinkling 

1/2 cup vegan Parmesan or mozzarella, for topping 

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a low, wide saucepan for about a minute. Add the onions and cook until translucent and golden, about 15 minutes. Stir in the garlic and continue cooking for about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook until it dissolves a bit, about 3 minutes. Stir in the diced tomatoes and allow to cook until thickened, about 30 minutes. Give it a good stir, then adjust the salt accordingly. Remove from the heat. Stir in the basil leaves.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drizzle in some olive oil and add the shells. Cook until just before al dente. Using a straining spider, carefully transfer the shells to a large bowl of ice water and set aside. 
  3. Add the cashews, lemon juice and 2 teaspoons salt to a food processor. Pulse, scraping the sides occasionally, until the cashews have smoothed out and are mostly creamy. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until a ricotta texture is achieved. 
  4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Drain the shells and drizzle with olive oil. 
  5. Add 1/2 cup water to the tomato sauce. Put 3/4 cup of the tomato sauce in a lasagna pan, spreading it out evenly with a rubber spatula. Line the pasta shells on top of the tomato sauce, covering most of the pan's surface. Place about a tablespoon of the ricotta into each shell. Ladle the remaining tomato sauce onto the shells. Sprinkle with the crushed red pepper, oregano and vegan cheese. Bake until the cheese has browned, about 25 minutes. 
  6. Remove from the oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving. 
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