Vegan Pumpkin Stuffed Shells w/ Garlic Alfredo Sauce

It has been some time… this whole covid shutdown has had me distracted in a weird way, even with mostly everything closed. My boredom finally led me back to cooking again, which led me here. And back with a kick-ass stuffed shell. Pumpkin ricotta filling for all you basic bitches out there. Topped with a super delicious garlic alfredo sauce… I suggest making double because you can make fettuccine alfredo for “Pasta Night: Round 2”. This lovely recipe is as seen on Rainbow Plant Life, and made by the lovely Nisha.

Vegan, Nut-Free

Prep time: 10 minutes; Cook time: 1 hour 5 minutes; Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Serving: 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 24 to 28 jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • Tofu Ricotta (recipe below)
  • 1 cup (240-250g) pumpkin purée
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup (50-60g) vegan parmesan cheese* (optional) 
  • Garlic Béchamel Sauce (recipe below)
  • 15 fresh sage leaves, sliced or torn up

Tofu Ricotta

  • 1 (14-ounce/400g) block of extra-firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup (20g) nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium lemon, juiced and zested 
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Garlic Béchamel Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced 
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • 1 (13.5 ounce/400 mL) can “lite” coconut milk**
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (or 175°C). Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil.
  2. Cook the pasta shells. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and generously salt the water. Add the jumbo pasta shells and cook according to the box instructions until just al dente (do not overcook!), then drain well. 
  3. Transfer the cooked pasta shells to a baking sheet and drizzle with the 1 tablespoon olive oil to prevent sticking and set aside.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the Tofu Ricotta. Drain the block of tofu and dab away the excess water with some paper towels. Place the tofu, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and crushed red pepper flakes (if using) in a food processor and pulse repeatedly until the texture is smooth but still a little chunky, similar to the texture of ricotta cheese.
  5. Make the pumpkin ricotta filling. In a large bowl, combine the Tofu Ricotta, pumpkin purée, nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, black pepper to taste, and vegan parmesan cheese (if using). Fold the ingredients together using a silicone spatula. Taste the filling and adjust the seasonings accordingly, adding more salt, pepper, or nutmeg as needed. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of the filling into each jumbo pasta shell, and set aside.
  6. Make the Garlic Béchamel Sauce. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add the 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add onion and season with a pinch of salt. Cook for 6-7 minutes, or until the onion is softened and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the flour, whisking constantly for a minute until well incorporated. Gradually pour in the lite coconut milk in stages, whisking after each addition to prevent clumps, and then cook for 2 minutes until the sauce has thickened. 
  7. Transfer the sauce to a blender and add the 1 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Blend until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Taste the sauce for seasonings, adding more salt or pepper as desired. 
  8. Assemble the dish. Pour 1/2 cup of the Garlic Béchamel Sauce in the prepared baking dish. Arrange the stuffed jumbo shells on top of the sauce. Pour the remaining sauce on top of the shells. Scatter the chopped fresh sage leaves on top of the sauce. Bake the stuffed shells for 25 minutes, or until the pasta shells are lightly golden. Serve warm.

Notes:

* The vegan parmesan cheeses I’ve used are Follow Your Heart shredded parmesan and Violife vegan parmesan wedge.

** To make your own “lite” coconut milk, mix together 1 part full-fat canned coconut milk with 2 parts water, stir together until well combined. Then measure out 13.5 ounces (400 mL).

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