Stuffed pasta shells with vegan pesto cream
This warming and hearty stuffed shell recipe uses very delicious cashew cream spiked with oregano pesto as the traditional ‘ricotta’ filling which makes these not only tasty but also dairy free and vegan (and potentially gluten free too if you use brown rice pasta shells). I promise – you won’t miss dairy based ricotta or mozzarella or parmesan in this recipe. Try other herbs and nuts or seeds to make your own tasty version.
Oregano hazelnut pesto:
1-2 bunches or one cup packed fresh oregano leaves (rinse, separate the leaves from the stalks)
3-4 garlic scapes (or 3 cloves garlic)
½ cup raw hazlenuts
half a lemon juiced+
salt and pepper
2tbl olive oil
Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Process until a paste is formed. Set aside ½ cup for this recipe and place remaining paste into a glass jar and cover with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Cover and store in fridge for up to a week or freeze.
Pesto Cashew Cream:
1.5 – 2 cups raw whole cashews soaked in water for 4 hours and drained
8 ounces firm tofu crumbled (or use 2 cups instead of 1.5 cups cashews)
¼ cup to 1/3 cup water (enough water to create a nice creamy consistency)
½ cup oregano pesto or preferred pesto
½ – 1 cup additional herbs or spinach (oregano, basil, parsley…etc)
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 lemon juiced+
salt and pepper, hot pepper flakes/cayenne to taste
Blend cashews, tofu, and water in a food processor (don’t bother cleaning between making the pesto and cashew cream). Process until well blended and creamy. Add the pesto, garlic, additional herbs or spinach, lemon juice and zest and other seasoning. Pulse until well blended into the cream.
8oz pasta shells (brown rice or your preferred pasta)
Cook in plenty of salted water until al dente. Drain and rinse gently with cool water. Drain.
1-2 jars tomato sauce of choice (homemade or store bought)
drizzle of olive oil
After you have your pesto and cashew cream and shells ready, turn your oven to 350. Put a layer of tomato sauce onto the bottom of a baking dish. Fill your shells full of the pesto cashew cream and place open side up on top of the tomato sauce layer. Ladle additional pasta sauce to cover each of your shells. Drizzle olive oil over top, cover, and bake for 20-25 minutes – until your dish is sizzling. Serves 4-6.
Ps The pesto cashew cream makes an excellent raw dip or spread. Serve with crackers or veggies.
– bon appétit!