Vegan Stuffed Shells with Spinach Cream Cheese Filling

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This recipe is one of those things that looks really amazing and really unachievable until you actually try it.

No joke, this was super easy to make and took just as much energy as any other pasta dish.

The first time we made it, my boyfriend and housemate laughed at me as I stuffed every single mini pasta shell with the spinach cream cheese filling.

We couldn’t find large shells anywhere, so I said, “Screw it; it’s still pasta,” and proceeded to fill each dainty shell with some creamy goodness.

Once it was ready, we ate the pasta wondering how good bite sized pasta pockets would really be compared to large shells and oh my grandma…they were so freakin’ good!

If you think about it, using big shells as your vehicle for delivering the spinach cream cheese actually makes for large portions of filling and less pasta surface area.

And if you’re anything like me, you like some good pasta surface area…aka LOTS OF PASTA.

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So, when we were in the situation where we couldn’t find large pasta shells and ended up with the normal sized ones, we actually came out on top!

Every bite was perfect.

With a three-way tie between red sauce, pasta, and creamy filling, the entire dinner became more of a victory with every bite.

Plus, my boyfriend was really impressed with the flavor and how much he actually enjoyed the vegan cream cheese.

It’s definitely a dish you can make for vegans and non-vegans alike.

The flavor is so well rounded and makes you feel like you’re eating a dish straight from Tuscany.

Well, that’s giving myself a whole lot of credit, isn’t it? Ha!

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What I mean is, the flavor is wayyy better than I expected and I was delightfully surprised my first time around.

The next few times we made it, we stuck with the small shells, and now I think it’s our normal pasta choice for this particular dish.

It takes a few extra minutes to assemble, but the final product makes it worth it.

We couldn’t finish eating it all in one sitting (which is abnormal for us), but we were able to successfully heat up the leftovers the next day.

To reheat any remaining pasta shells, I recommend sticking them in a bowl and into the microwave.

Trying to reheat this dish in the oven will just dry out the pasta and become a weird, crunchy mess, so stick with a wet paper towel over the bowl of leftovers and microwave for 1-2 minutes (depending on how strong your microwave is).

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The great thing about this dish is how satisfying it is even when it’s made gluten-free.

It’s certainly a dish you can serve when it gets cold outside and you want something hearty and healthy.

The cream cheese is probably the element with the most calories, but damn if it doesn’t taste like Philadelphia!

I’m always a bit suspicious of new vegan products the first time I use them, because they aren’t always the best imitation or ingredient combination.

The Angel Food vegan cream cheese I use actually tastes like “regular” cream cheese only it doesn’t have any baby cow growth hormone syrup in it (aka dairy).

If you can get your hands on this particular vegan cream cheese, I think you’ll be delighted at the best vegan cream cheese out there.

I hope you enjoy making this dish as much as I did. It was really nice to slow down with a glass of vegan wine and fill each shell into this Italian masterpiece (again, my imagination getting the best of me).

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VEGAN STUFFED SHELLS WITH SPINACH CREAM CHEESE FILLING

INGREDIENTS FOR PASTA

  • 250g or 2 cups of regular pasta shells (gluten-free if desired)

    OR

  • 200g or 7 ounces of jumbo pasta shells (gluten-free if desired)

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INGREDIENTS FOR THE RED SAUCE

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 white onion (diced)

  • 2 gloves of garlic (diced)

  • 1 can diced tomatoes (400ml)

  • 2 tbsp tomato paste

  • 2 tsp oregano

  • salt & pepper to taste

INGREDIENTS FOR SPINACH & CREAM CHEESE FILLING

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  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 white onion (diced)

  • 2 gloves of garlic (diced)

  • 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese

  • 400g of spinach (15oz)

  • salt & pepper to taste

OPTIONAL TOPPING:

  • Vegan parmesan cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 180° C or 355° F.

  2. Boil a pot of water and cook pasta until al dente (they’ll cook further in the oven later).

  3. Starting with the red sauce, heat the olive oil on the stove in a sauce pan over medium heat, then toss in the diced onion and garlic.

  4. Cook about 2-3 minutes until translucent, then stir in the can of diced tomatoes and tomato paste.

  5. Continue to stir the sauce as you add the oregano, salt, and pepper.

  6. Cook for about 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

  7. Pour the red sauce into two skillets (usually makes enough for one large and one medium sized skillet) and set aside.

  8. Next, for the spinach cream cheese filling, put a new or the same cleaned sauce pan over medium heat with the olive oil.

  9. Toss in the onion and garlic and cook until translucent.

  10. Add the spinach and stir as it wilts, then add in the cream cheese just to heat up a bit, but don’t melt it completely.

  11. Put all the contents of the spinach mix into a blender and add the salt and pepper.

  12. Blend until the combination becomes a thick filling.

  13. Drain the pasta when it’s al dente and, using a spoon, fill each shell with the spinach and cream cheese concoction.

  14. As you fill each shell, place it in the skillet over the red sauce.

  15. When the skillets are filled with stuffed pasta shells, place the skillets in the oven for approximately 25 minutes.

  16. Remove from the oven and enjoy!

  17. *Optional step: Add grated vegan parmesan cheese over the shells before placing in oven.

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Enjoy!

Kelsey PowellComment