Any day of the week, for special occasions, or to make for guests, these vegan stuffed shells are a bit of a treat. It is a bit more work than speedy pasta toss it in a pot and go kind of thing, but well worth it.
If you’ve never had stuffed shells, it’s a bit like a lazy ravioli. The pasta is filled after cooking, so you don’t need to make it from scratch, and then baked with sauce. They’re usually filled with ricotta and sometimes meat, then topped with more cheese.
This vegan version uses meaty oyster mushrooms alongside spinach and cashew cream cheese for the filling. It’s delicious and so satisfying – try it!
- Shell Pasta: or conchiglioni, the largest ones you can get. Mine are spelt based.
- Mushrooms: use oyster mushrooms if you can get them, but other types will work too (see more below).
- Onion and Garlic: a fine mince adds flavour to the filling without altering the texture much.
- Spices: plain salt and pepper. There’s hot pepper and herbs in the tomato sauce.
- Spinach: fresh, through frozen and thawed can also be used. Other greens work well.
- Cashew Cream Cheese: the fermented version is great and nicely cheese-like, but if you’re in a rush other types can be used.
- Tomato Sauce: this simple marinara.
Step by Step
Notes and Substitutions
Use gluten free pasta if you need a GF option. I don’t have a brand to recommend.
If you can’t get oyster mushrooms (they’re cheap at this time of year!) then use plain button or another type you like. Parasol would be really excellent here.
Other types of vegan cream cheese or crème fraîche can be used in place of the cashew cream cheese. Vegan ricotta is a good substitution, but it’s a bit tricky to find one that isn’t made with soya. Store bought is, of course, absolutely fine.
I topped with roughly ground cedar nuts as a kind of parmesan, but a plant-based ‘parmesan’ can also be used.
Use chopped large leaf spinach, baby kale or chard, or any type of hardy green you like in place of baby spinach. As mentioned above, frozen can be used, but it should be thawed in a colander first.
The cooking time for the pasta is reduced slightly to avoid dreaded floppy noodles. They are baked for ten minutes, keep in mind, so cooking them too soft will cause very overcooked pasta in the end.
More Pasta Recipes
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Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Shells
- 400 grams marinara (tomato sauce)
- 200 grams conchiglioni about 20 giant pasta shells
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 300 grams oyster mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1 small onion finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon sea salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper to taste
- 100 grams baby spinach
- 150 grams cashew cream cheese
- Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F).
- Add the marinara to the base of a large baking dish, about 30x25cm (12x10in.). Set aside.
- Start the water for the pasta. Once the water boils, cook the shells in well salted water according to package directions. Cook for two minutes less than is stated on the package.
- In the meantime, prepare the filling. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, then add the olive oil.
- Add the mushrooms to the pan and spread into an even layer. Cook, avoiding stirring, for 3-4 minutes, or until browned.
- Add the onion and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper, and cook for another minute.
- Take the pan off the heat and add the baby spinach. Stir to wilt the spinach with the residual heat from the pan.
- Add the cashew cream cheese and stir through. Set aside until the pasta is ready.
- Drain the pasta (don’t rinse it). Working carefully, fill each shell with a heaping tablespoon of the filling. Place each filled shell into the tomato sauce in the baking dish, repeating until all of the shells are filled.
- Bake for 10 minutes. After this time, the pasta should be a bit bigger, but not browned.
- Remove from the oven, add any toppings you’d like, and serve immediately. Leftovers keep well for a day or two in a sealed container in the refrigerator.