Butternut squash stuffed shells are the ultimate fall comfort food! Filled with creamy spinach "ricotta," this recipe is an all-time fan favorite.
Creamy, tangy, and with a caramelized sweetness from roasted butternut squash, this stuffed shells recipe is one you’re sure to love. In lieu of any ricotta, Parmesan, or mozzarella cheese, I stuff them with a light, dairy-free “ricotta.” Made from cashew cream, crumbled tofu, herbs, and lemon zest, it’s rich and flavorful. If your family is squeamish about tofu, just don’t tell them. They’ll never suspect it here.
My Favorite Stuffed Shells Recipe
While I often use a marinara sauce with my stuffed shells, in the spirit of fall, I opted for a luscious, creamy cashew sauce. I also stuffed my shells with roasted butternut squash. This recipe has a few steps, but the creamy, cozy pasta & squash are totally worth the effort. Here’s how you make them:
- Roast the squash. Make sure to cut it into little cubes that will fit neatly inside the shells!
- Make the cashew cream. Blend together the cashews, water, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Make the “ricotta.” Saute the spinach, squeeze out any excess water, and mix it with crumbled tofu, oregano, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and 1 cup cashew cream.
- Cook the pasta. Don’t forget to salt the water!
- Stuff the shells. Fill them with generous scoops of the ricotta and a few cubes of squash.
- Bake the stuffed shells! Pop them in the oven for 15 minutes, and you’re ready to eat.
We really love this recipe. I hope you do too!
Stuffed Shells Serving Suggestions
I like to serve my stuffed shells with dollops of extra cashew cream to really take them over the top. While this recipe is delicious on any night, it’d be especially good as a vegetarian main course at Thanksgiving or a holiday dinner. If you’re looking for something to pair it with, try any of these simple vegetable side dishes:
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Simple Lemon Green Beans
- Roasted Beet Salad
- Simple Roasted Beets with Citrus
- Shredded Brussels Sprout Salad
- Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Zest
- any of these salads
And don’t forget the apple crumble for dessert!
If you love this stuffed shells recipe…
Try these cozy casserole-type recipes next:
Or try one of these favorite squash recipes:
For more vegan recipes, check out this post with 85 Best Vegan Recipes.
Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells
- 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
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup crumbled firm tofu
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 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, 1/2 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 1/4 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 cooked 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, cover with foil, and bake for 15 minutes, or until heated through. Remove from the oven and serve with the remaining cashew cream.
Can this be made ahead of time?
Hi Amy, You can assemble the shells in the baking dish and store them, covered, in the fridge for up to a day before baking. Let them sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before baking according to the recipe.
I am allergic to cashews and almonds. What would be a good substitute?
Hi Lorraine, you could use the ricotta filling from this recipe and use marinara sauce as the base instead: https://www.loveandlemons.com/stuffed-shells-recipe/
I was going to half this recipe (for three people only) but hard to find tofu in a 4 oz package. Anything I can substitute here (non-dairy?)
Hi Jen, you could make the ricotta filling from this recipe if you’re not vegan: https://www.loveandlemons.com/stuffed-shells-recipe/
Hi: I am allergic to soy. Is there a substitute that I can use for tofu in the Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells recipe that I may try? The recipe sounds delicious! I’d love to try it without the Tofu. I appreciate any insights or ideas. Thanks!
Hi Bee, the filling on these other stuffed shells uses ricotta instead: https://www.loveandlemons.com/stuffed-shells-recipe/
Got any recommendations for a cashew substitute for someone who is horrifically allergic? Would sunflower seeds work, do you think? I really want to try making this!
Hi Elle, I think sunflower seeds might work, the water in the recipe might not work at the same measurement. Do you eat dairy? We have a great version with a ricotta filling: https://www.loveandlemons.com/stuffed-shells-recipe/