These dairy free, nut free stuffed pasta shells will likely become a new family favorite for a plant-based meal. They are easy to make and will be quick to disappear. These are just as delicious as the stuffed shells you remember eating as a child—only these are made PLANTSTRONG!
Cannellini Beans + Tofu = Cheeze
Many times the first ingredient you see in vegan cheese is cashews. If you have a nut allergy, or cook for someone that does, this can be a real pain. But did you know that you can use cannellini beans in place and cashews and get the same end result? White beans (cannellini beans) are A neutral-tasting base ingredient that adds creaminess to the sauce, just as the cashews do.
While sliced tofu mimics mozzarella or provolone on sandwiches or with crackers, you can blend or mash some Firm Tofu with a dash of lemon juice as a ricotta substitute.
This sauce gets its signature “cheesy” flavor from a combination of nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and salt. Nutritional yeast, also sometimes called “nooch,” is a deactivated yeast. Just one tablespoon of nutrition yeast can contain up to 38 mg of niacin, which is involved in your body’s metabolism and enzyme function.
When shopping for tofu, look for white, fresh-smelling tofu. Any discoloration or sour odor means that tofu has undergone temperature fluctuations or has been on the shelf too long. While shelf-stable tofu cartons have longer shelf lives, they are made with GM soybeans and generally have poor flavor.
If you're not sure which tofu to buy, a firm block will get you through most savory recipes. The curds in a firm block are tight and visible; it should feel solid, with little give. Its firm body takes on a slight rubbery texture during cooking, which means you can handle each block with (relatively) little fear.
As a general rule, commercially sold refrigerated raw tofu will last for about two months in the refrigerator, assuming you've purchased it relatively soon after production. If this sounds like a long time, it's because store-bought refrigerated tofu contains preservatives and is sold in sealed packages.
Preserving leftover tofu that has been taken out of its original packaging is easy. Simply store the tofu in a container filled with clean and cold water in the fridge. Cook and consume leftover tofu within two or three days, but change the water in the container daily to preserve the tofu's freshness.
‘Rinotta’ (Dairy Free) Stuffed Shells
1 15 oz. can Cannellini beans (white kidney) – drained
2 packages firm tofu
4 cloves of garlic or a tablespoon of minced garlic
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoon of Italian seasoning
3 (25 oz.) jars oil-free, low sodium pasta sauce
3/4 cup of water
3 cups fresh spinach
2 (8 oz.) boxes jumbo brown rice shells** - we recommend Tinkyada brand
The Rinotta Cheeze
In a food processor blend until smooth: beans, tofu, garlic, nutritional yeast and 1 tablespoon of the Italian seasoning. Taste your rinotta cheeze. Need more garlic? Not enough herbs? Add more if you wish. Taste again. Repeat until you are happy with your creation.
Cover the bottom of a 13x9 pan with the pasta sauce and water, stir to combine.
Add a layer of spinach.
Fill the uncooked pasta shells with the rinotta mixture using a small spoon. Place the shells in the pan, applying gentle pressure to submerge the shells down into the sauce layer so they are 75% covered with sauce. The shells will absorb the sauce as they bake to soften the shells.
Top the shells with some extra Italian spices.
Cover the pan with foil and bake at 425 for 35-40 minutes until the liquid is boiling and the shells are cooked al dente.
If no food processor is available, you can mash the beans and tofu by hand if necessary. Serve this dish with a big green salad.
This recipe makes approximately 40 stuffed shells or 8 Servings.
**You could easily substitute whole wheat lasagna noodles in place of the shells. Simply cook the noodles according to the package, then spread with the filling, roll-up and bake!