Get #soyinspired with these vegan stuffed shells with butternut sage cream sauce! Tofu ricotta stuffed into jumbo shells and baked in a creamy butternut sauce.
Day by day, our little house is slowly coming along. My in-laws were kind enough to drive down this weekend to help us with the chores that no one wants to do: painting the downstairs, organizing the basement, and endless amounts of yard work. After condo living for the past decade, it's easy to forget how much effort goes into maintaining a yard. While I'm ready to try my black thumb at gardening this Spring, I sometimes miss the simplicity of having concrete for a front yard. No overgrown bushes, leaves, and weeds to constantly wrestle with.
The highlight of their trip down was bringing our longly awaited farm table, a massive eight-foot oak table that is sure to be the gathering point of our family. My father-in-law has graciously spent his weekends and free time crafting our handmade table and to say it's a thing of beauty is a gross understandment. I can't wait for the coming dinner parties, holidays, and events that will happen around that table in the years to come.
Now that we have our table in place, I'm anxiously ready to entertain. I know that the way into most people's hearts is through a full belly and I'm hoping that this is true with the few friends we've made this far. I'm always slightly nervous when I invite people over to dinner for the first time. Should I tell them in advance that we're vegetarian? Are they going to be OK with our meatless dinners? Deep down I know that everyone is always more than satisfied, but it's still a lingering question that pops in my mind when I ask new friends to join us for a meal.
Over the years, I've relied on a few showstopper dinners that I know will win over any crowd. As the holidays slowly creep toward us, I want to make sure I'm prepared with gorgeous, seasonally-inspired dinners that are not only delicious — but healthy as well. I want our guests to focus on how yummy the food is instead of what's missing.
These butternut-sage stuffed shells are worthy of any holiday table. Tofu ricotta stuffed into jumbo shells and then baked in a savory butternut cream sauce, garnished with fried sage and toasted pecans. They are elegant, fairly easy to assemble, and beautiful.
Ironically, tofu ricotta was the very first thing I ever made with tofu. This was way back in high school when I was a newish vegetarian and still experimenting with meat-free swaps. My mom and I bought a container of tofu at the grocery store in hopes of creating a silky ricotta filling, minus the dairy. We opened the package, stuffed it directly into the shells and hoped for the best. Needless to say, it wasn't our finest cooking moment.
Thankfully, I now know how to make a killer tofu ricotta that actually tastes similar to its dairy counterpart. Crumbled, firm tofu with a bit of spices, lemon juice and nutritional yeast make for a healthy, protein-packed swap this holiday season.
12 ounces jumbo shells
1/4 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped
Butternut Sage Sauce:
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
3 cups peeled, seeded, and diced butternut squash
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups vegetable broth
1 lb. package extra firm tofu, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the jumbo shells. You may need to do this in batches depending on how large your pot is. Cook until just al dente according to package directions, set aside. Drain, reserving one cup pasta water.
- While the water is boiling, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sage and stir to crisp, about 30 seconds to one minute. Remove sage with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and set the bowl aside.
- Add the squash, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes to the same skillet along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until onion is tender, about 10 minutes.
- Add in the vegetable broth and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until squash is fork tender and liquid is reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Using an immersion blender, blender, or food processor, puree the sauce until velvety smooth along with 1/3 cup reserved pasta water. If it's too thick, add in more pasta water. It should be the consistency of jarred marinara.
- Meanwhile, make the tofu ricotta. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and crumble the tofu in. Cook for 2-3 minutes to remove any excess water. Add in the olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, nutritional yeast, oregano, garlic powder, and salt. Stir to combine, set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- To assemble the stuffed shells, place one cup of the butternut sauce on the bottom of a 9x13" pan. Spoon a large dollop of the tofu mixture into each shell and place in the dish. Continue with the rest of the shells, then top with the remaining butternut sauce.
- Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.
- Remove. Garnish with toasted pecans and reserved crispy fried sage.
- Main Dishes
- 4-6 Servings