Vegan Stuffed Shells with Kale

No one will know these vegan stuffed shells are dairy-free! Packed with fresh herbs and kale, this stuffed shell recipe is one of our favorite dinners.

Vegan Stuffed Shells with Kale Vegan Stuffed Shells with Kale

I swear, no one will know these stuffed shells are vegan. Ok, that was a big statement, let me start over. I’m really pretty sure that these vegan stuffed shells will win over your pickiest eaters. This isn’t fancy food here… we all loved jumbo stuffed shells in the 90’s, and I’m bringing them back today with the best quotation marked “ricotta” that I’ve made yet.

The trick is to combine cashew cream with tofu. I’ve made a lot of vegan lasagnas by crumbling tofu with herbs – which looks very ricotta-esque, but still tastes decidedly tofu-esque. The cashew cream offers a bigger better flavor, and the tofu is there for texture. I also snuck some kale in for good measure, packing these vegan stuffed shells with veggies.

Vegan Stuffed Shells with Kale

And (now) speaking of fancy food – this vegan stuffed shell recipe was inspired by the selection of ingredients that came in my Hatchery Box. Hatchery is a monthly subscription of tasty artisan-made treats that come right to your door. Much the same way I love my farm delivery for produce – I just love this for the surprise of it all. Surprise ingredients are what get me out of cooking ruts. If you’re not one for surprises, don’t worry: they send recipe cards to go along with each ingredient as well.

Vegan Stuffed Shells with Kale

Sauce, bake & devour…

5.0 from 13 reviews

Vegan Stuffed Shells with Kale

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
No one will know these vegan stuffed shells are dairy-free! The "ricotta" is made from crumbled tofu and cashew cream, giving it a delicious texture. Fresh herbs and kale pack color and flavor into this favorite stuffed shell recipe.
Serves: 4 (pictured is a half-recipe)
vegan “ricotta”: (can be made ahead)
  • 1.5 cups cashews, soak overnight & drain
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons ume vinegar (or sub more lemon + salt)
  • ¼ cup water (just enough to get the blade going)
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • ½ cup crumbled firm tofu
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup finely chopped raw kale (or spinach)
  • handful of chopped chives and/or other fresh herbs
  • salt & pepper, to taste
for the shells:
  • 16 jumbo shells
  • a few cups of marinara sauce
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • (very optional) - top with grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a blender or food processor, puree together the cashews, garlic, vinegar, and lemon juice. Add only enough water to help the blade along. Taste and add salt & pepper to your liking.
  3. Scoop cashew cream into a large bowl and add the crumbled tofu, oregano, red pepper flakes, kale, chives, and another few pinches of salt & pepper. Stir & taste.
  4. Cook your shells in salty water until al dente.
  5. Prepare a baking dish with a good slathering of marinara at the bottom.
  6. Scoop a few tablespoons of filling into each shell, place them into the baking dish. Top each with a generous spoonful of marinara and a drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes.
Pictured is a half recipe (for 2 of us). I stored ½ the ricotta mixture for the two of us for another night.

You can add the chopped kale raw or slightly cooked (heat it in a pan with a drop of oil until it wilts). It'll cook in the oven either way, the only benefit to the extra step of cooking it is that you can pack more in here if it's a bit wilted.

One night we added mushrooms - yum.

This post is sponsored by Hatchery. All opinions are our own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that keep us cooking!


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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. mr.tinypants

    Hey everybody! Stop saying how good this sounds and just make it already. My wife gave me a standing ovation for this one. She even ate the leftovers for breakfast. She never eats dinner for breakfast. It does not taste or feel vegan, which is to say the filling is savory, rich and rather velvety as opposed to twiggy, dusty and just plain sad. It’s incredibly delicious, guilt-free eating. You can prepare this to oven ready and freeze. To get the creaminess, I mixed the cashew cream with the tofu and finely chopped kale in a stand mixer on medium high speed, added 1/4 cup nutritional yeast as a binder. The key is to beat the political correctness out of the tofu. Thanks Jeanine!

    • jeanine

      ha, glad your wife loved it! We laughed out loud reading your comment 🙂

  2. This is so inventive!!! I have been craving stuffed shells and lasagna lately. This will give me an excuse to try this tofu-cotta out! Alos, I loooove the saucy picture!

  3. You always have the best pasta recipes, and I’m sure this is nothing short of phenomenal!! Do you think with the tofu, this can be made ahead and frozen too?

    • jeanine

      Hi Katie, I think it might freeze well, but I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure… I did keep the ricotta filling (separate from the shells) in the fridge for 4-5 days.

  4. Justina from

    This looks delicious! I love the healthy and beautiful food on your blog. Your recipes are always so creative.

  5. Asha from

    Hmm.. I am not a huge tofu fan, so I have steered clear of using it as a substitute. I heard there is even tofu cream cheese. I much prefer cashew cream and love how versatile it is! This is a cool use of it Jeanine!

    I had a question – What kind of pasta did you use? GF or just egg free regular shells?

    • jeanine

      Just regular ones (they have no eggs)… I couldn’t find any that were gluten free, wheat, (or even organic :)). I have another variation coming up tomorrow that’s gluten free & healthier.

  6. Indira from

    That looks delicious! I just actually bought that same dish online and I’m anxiously awaiting its arrival! Might use this recipe as its inaugural dish. 🙂

    • jeanine

      I use it all the time, it’s the perfect size for 2! (if yours is bigger you can fit more shells, the recipe is written for shells)

  7. I’ve been seeing so many stuffed shell recipes lately, but I haven’t seen very many vegan ones. This looks amazeballs. You rock. Thank you for filling that void in my life.

  8. cheri from

    Never tried cashew cream before, sounds dreamy. This pasta dish looks amazing!

  9. india from

    what a wonderful recipe for ricotta. LOVE your photos!

  10. Jona from

    YES! I must get some shells and sauce for dinner tonight! Thank you.

  11. Ileana from

    These look so good. I’ve seen vegan cashew cream recipes but never a ricotta. This former vegan will have to try it some time!

  12. Yum! I love stuffed shells, and yours looks like a vegan option so good, you wouldn’t even miss the original! Beautiful pictures, by the way! 🙂

  13. I need to get on this ‘ricotta’ bandwagon! Cashew cream is one of my favorite things in baked goods, but I need to try it in dinner dishes too!

    • jeanine

      it’s SO good as a cheesy replacement!

    • I was just curious to know… if I do not use the ume vinegar, how much lemon juice should I use? In total. Thank you!! Have a good one. 🙂

    • Kathi

      Easy to do, I boiled the cashews instead of waiting. Fabulous taste. Next time I will increase the receipe by half I guess I tend to stuff too much. But a definite keeper.

    • Daniela

      It’s a game changer.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.