A simple and delicious vegan supper dish that can be prepped ahead of time and will wow your guests. My stuffed pasta shells are made with a tasty filling of spinach and vegan cream cheese, swathed in a tomato sauce and baked
Pin my easy vegan stuffed pasta shells to make later!
I was first inspired to cook this after receiving a newsletter from OG foodie blogger, extraordinaire, David Leibowitz. David has written about life in Paris and desserts since the LATE 90s, so can truly be considered one of the first food bloggers. If you are a Francophile, I highly recommend subbing to his site.
This recipe was also inspired by my classic vegan lasagna recipe and pairs well with my air fryer carrots (but is just as good with a simple green salad and some French bread).
Back to the question in question though, his newsletter drew me in (or rather, drool me in) with his stuffed pasta shells, a riff on that American pseudo-Italian (but no less delicious for it) dish, manicotti.
I was first introduced to manicotti via my American family, twenty years ago. Sheets of lasagne, boiled until malleable, then stuffed with ricotta and spinach, rolled up and baked in a tomato sauce. It was one of my favourite dishes, and I added my own twist to it then by adding some toasted pine toasts and sautéed spring onion.
Any self-respecting Italian has never heard of Manicotti, as it is not really Italian, but a quirky American hybrid of a dish, very similar to cannelloni.
My version is a little more sophisticated, taking a leaf out of David's book, and making a rich, creamy filling that is stuffed into pasta shells. And they look beautiful.
This is such an easy dish to prepare. I use my vegan pizza sauce, although for this recipe you only need half of that recipe. I make a full batch and freeze the other half for something else, or use it on spaghetti later in the week.
The cream cheese filling is just divine. Philadelphia's plant-based cream cheese is not quite ricotta but, with a little bit of nutritional yeast, takes on a delicious savoury flavour. Use your own favourite brand. Some chopped cooked spinach, zest of lemon, and it's the filling dreams are made of!
- large dried pasta shells. Note, I buy mine from Amazon here as my local smaller supermarkets don't stock them
- tomato sauce
- fresh spinach
- vegan cream cheese
- lemon zest
- toasted pine nuts (optional, I didn't use them this time as they are so expensive)
(This is ONLY a list of ingredients for the recipe; please see recipe card below for complete printable recipe. Or if you use the JUMP TO RECIPE at the top of the page, it will take you directly to the complete recipe.)
Cook the fresh spinach over low heat until completely wilted. Chop finely.
Mix the spinach with the cream cheese, nutritional yeast, lemon zest and seasoning
Stuff the parboiled pasta shells with the spinach sauce
Layer in the baking dish with the tomato sauce and bake for 30 minutes
- Pasta - instead of using pasta shells, use large tubes instead, and pipe the filling in using a large piping bag and nozzle.
- Gluten-Free - use gluten free pasta if you can find it in a similar shape to make this dish gluten free
- Spinach - use chopped fresh herbs (as David Leibovitz does) instead of spinach. He suggests using a mixture of basil, parsley and chives.
You can prep the entire dish the day before, covering with foil and refrigerating before baking when you need it. It also tastes great at room temperature.
You can also stuff the shells and freeze them individually, thawing them out when you need a quick supper dish!
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Vegan Stuffed Pasta Shells in a tomato sauce
- 1 Baking Dish I used this 8" dia enamel pie dish
- 1 ½ recipe tomato sauce (freeze the other half). I use my pizza sauce, here
- 300 g Pasta Shells large, I use Conchiglioni
- 300 g Cream cheese vegan
- 200 g Spinach fresh, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon Nutritional yeast
- Lemon zest
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 180c.
- Make your tomato sauce first.
- Put half of the sauce of the bottom of the baking dish.
- Whilst your sauce is cooking, place the spinach in a large saucepan over medium heat with a tablespoon of water and cook for a couple of minutes or until wilted.
- Drain the spinach and chop it finely.
- Place a pan of water on to boil and cook the pasta shells for 5 minutes or until just starting to soften. Drain.
- In a small bowl, mix together the chopped spinach, cream cheese, nutritional yeast, lemon zest and adjust for seasoning.
- Using a teaspoon, stuff the shells with the cream cheese spinach mixture until you have used up all the mixture.
- Layer them up in the dish and cover with the remaining sauce.
- Sprinkle with a little vegan grated cheese (optional).
- Bake for half an hour.
Did you make this recipe? Let me know!