We all love a good and simple pasta dish, but it can sometimes be challenging if you're gluten free or dairy free. Once I developed a recipe to make vegan ricotta, I realized that a lot more pasta and various other recipes would now be possible to make at home.
This gluten free, dairy free, and vegetarian version of spinach and ricotta stuffed shells is super delicious, flavorful, and filling. If you are not vegetarian, but avoiding dairy, you could also try adding ground beef or sausage to the recipe. This recipe is also great because it makes a big pan of pasta that can serve 3 to 4 people and you can save the extras in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
8 oz box GF grand shells (I used Tinkyada Brown Rice Grand Shells)
1 cup silver blanched almonds
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup water
4 cups loosely packed spinach
1 large egg
1 cup shredded vegan mozzarella cheese + extra for topping (I used a mixture of Miyoko's Creamery and Violife)
1 1/4 cup marinara sauce
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 11x7 baking pan with gluten free non-stick spray or oil and set aside.
Boil the grand shells according to the box directions until they are al dente.
In the meantime, to make the "ricotta", place the blanched almonds, nutritional yeast, Italian seasoning, garlic cloves, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper to a food processor. Process until combined.
Keep the food processor running and slowly add in the water continuing to process until smooth. Add the spinach and pulse until the spinach is in small pieces.
Poor the mixture into a large bowl. Stir in the egg and shredded vegan mozzarella.
Poor about 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce into the bottom of the pan and use a spoon or spatula to evenly distribute it amongst the pan.
Using a cookie scoop or spoon, scoop a good amount of the "ricotta" into a grand shell and place the shell into the pan open side facing upwards. Repeat with all of the shells you can fit into the pan. Some of the shells may fall to the side, but don't worry because it will still taste good. You also may have a couple shells left over.
Poor the rest of the marinara sauce evenly over the shells. Sprinkle some extra shredded or chunks of mozzarella over the top and bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the sauce bubbles and the vegan mozzarella has melted.
Remove from the oven and top with fresh basil if desired. Serve warm and enjoy!