I know – there’s nothing especially Thanksgiving-ey about this recipe. I had a number of vegetarian “main course” ideas that I thought of sharing this year. At the top of the list was a creamy vegan pot pie with a delectable flaky crust… but I didn’t get to it. I’m still excited by that idea and when I do get to it, it’ll be amazing… but the week I was creating this recipe, I had leftover butternut squash, and I was craving pasta. Pot pie had to wait.
This recipe is loosely based on the other stuffed shell recipe that I made for this blog a few years ago. It’s been a favorite, mostly because (in my opinion) it hardly tastes vegan. The “ricotta” – made from cashew cream, crumbled tofu, herbs, and lemon zest – is rich and flavorful. If your family is squeamish about tofu, just don’t tell them. They’ll never suspect it here.
In the spirit of fall, I stuffed my shells with roasted butternut squash. Fill them, bake, and top with dollops of the extra cashew cream, if you like.
- 1½ cups cubed butternut squash
- extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- 16 jumbo shells
- 1½ cups raw cashews*(see note)
- 1 cup fresh water
- 1 garlic clove
- 3½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup crumbled firm tofu
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 cup cashew cream (from the recipe above)
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the butternut squash with a drizzle of olive oil and a few generous pinches of salt and pepper. Roast until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Make the cashew cream: Blend together the drained raw cashews, fresh water, garlic, lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper.
- Make the filling: In a medium skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Add the spinach in increments, along with a pinch of salt, and sauté until all the spinach is incorporated and wilted. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Squeeze out any excess liquid and chop. In a medium bowl, combine the the spinach with the crumbled tofu, oregano, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, at least ¼ teaspoon salt, freshly ground black pepper and 1 cup of cashew cream. Season to taste, adding more salt and pepper as desired.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shells and cook according to the package directions until al dente. Drain.
- Assemble the shells. Spread ¼ cup of the reserved cashew cream on the bottom of an 11x7-inch baking dish. Fill each shell with some of the filling and a few cubes of butternut squash, and place into the baking dish. Drizzle a little olive oil over the shells and bake, covered, for 15 minutes, or until heated through. Remove from the oven and serve with the remaining cashew cream.