Vegan pesto ricotta shells
These pesto ricotta stuffed pasta shells are perfect for a warm, cozy evening. This healthy vegan recipe is also hearty and comforting. Chock full of fiber and minerals from the legumes and tomatoes, you can chow down this comfort dish and not feel gross or guilty!
I love walking through the grocery store. It’s a weirdly relaxing ‘chore’ that calms me down. I find endless meal inspiration meandering through the aisles, seeing what’s on sale and if there are any new vegan products I haven’t yet tried out. Imagine a whimsical painting of a woman wandering through a golden summer meadow….this is how grocery shopping feels to me.
I was perusing the aisles on my weekly grocery trip and I landed in the pasta section (as I usually do #CarbsAreMyFriends). I came across a box of ‘Jumbo Shells’.
I can’t even remember the last time I had jumbo shells. Definitely not since I went vegan, as they’re usually stuffed with cheese, cheese and more cheese. This had to change. I started to brainstorm fillings.
I wanted to replicate the creaminess of ricotta or cottage cheese. I landed on cannellini beans. My first attempt at a pesto filling wasn’t that bad. The only thing I didn’t like was the after taste of the cannellini beans. I then tried Great Northern Beans because they’re one of my favorites. Viola! The ricotta cheese was a success.
Next, was the ‘meaty sauce’. My favorite pasta sauce is hands-down a lentil sauce. Lentils make the perfect substitute for ground beef. If you’re feeling a bit lazy, don’t worry about cooking up the lentils. You can use a plain marinara sauce. Although, lentils only take about 20 minutes to cook, and you can cook them right up as you’re waiting for your pasta water to boil.
- 1 box jumbo pasta shells
- 1 jar marinara sauce
- 1 cup brown lentils
- 1 package vegan mozzarella shredded cheese (optional)
Vegan Pesto Ricotta Cheese Stuffing
- 2 cans great northern beans
- 2 cloves o garlic
- ¼ cup basil
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ lemon
- ¼ cup cashews (optional)
- 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- ⅓ cup olive oil or water
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook the jumbo shells al dente. Rinse with cold water. Place cooked pasta in cool water and set aside. This prevents the noodles from sticking while you get everything together
- While cooking the pasta, cook lentils. Put 3 cups of water over the 1 cup of lentils. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Once lentils are cooked, add the jar of marinara sauce. Add about ½ cup of water to sauce.
- Blend together all ingredients in the pesto ricotta sauce except for the northern beans
- Once your pesto base is made, add in the northern beans and blend together.
- Grab a baking dish and cover bottom of dish lightly with a layer of lentil marinara sauce
- Stuff the shells with about a TBL of pesto ricotta sauce
- Cover shells with remainder of lentil marinara sauce
- Cover with vegan shredded cheese
- Cover baking dish with tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cook covered to melt the vegan cheese