Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Shells with Tofu Ricotta

March 3, 2014

I know for most people, tofu is to be avoided.  It has a weird texture without much inherent taste, and it’s made from soy.  I never fell into that category of tofu haters – I’ve been a tofu lover since day 1. Stir fried, baked, even made into chocolate pie, I’ll eat tofu pretty much anyway you throw it at me.   Josh is perhaps a little more normal and has long believed that tofu is weird, so I made it one of my life’s missions to change that.

Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Shells with Tofu Ricotta

The magical day his mind changed was a couple of years ago when I made tofu ricotta for the first time.  The one thing he hated more than tofu was ricotta, so I knew at best it would be less disappointing for him than eating actual ricotta.  To my surprise, he LOVED it.  It adds a cheesy-type, ricotta-y texture, without being grainy like ricotta.  It’s the perfect way to convert a tofu hater – no one would ever guess this is tofu.

Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Shells with Tofu Ricotta

Whether you’re looking to up your protein intake, reduce the calories, or eliminate cheese entirely, this is a great recipe.  I blended in some spinach and mushrooms for good measure and topped the whole thing with some Daiya cheese (because Josh has an obsession with melty, melty Daiya).  It all comes together relatively quickly and easily, but looks like something you put a lot of effort into.  I’ve been totally unable to find whole wheat or gluten-free noodles (only regular, white noodles) – if whole wheat or gluten-free is important or necessary for you, use pre-cooked lasagna noodles and roll them up or even layer like lasagna.

Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Shells with Tofu Ricotta
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 6

  • 12 oz jumbo pasta shells (see note)
  • 12 oz extra firm tofu (regular, light, or sprouted)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast (can use Parmesan if not making vegan)
  • 1 c spinach, tightly packed
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tbsp. water, divided
  • 1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce
  • Optional: ½ c vegan mozzarella cheese, like Daiya (or regular cheese)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and prepare a large casserole dish with non-stick spray.
  2. Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the pasta according to package directions (there should be directions for pre-baked, otherwise remove approximately ¼ of the full cooking time). Once cooked, strain and lay out on a baking sheet to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, drain the tofu package. Cover the tofu in paper towel and give a good squeeze to remove extra liquid.
  4. In a food processor combine the tofu, lemon juice, seasonings, nutritional yeast, spinach, and mushrooms. Pulse until the tofu is crumbly and resembles ricotta, adding 1 or 2 tbsp. of water if the mixture looks very dry. (If you don’t have a food processor: crumble tofu with your hands, finely chop spinach and mushrooms, and stir everything together).
  5. Pour about ½ of the tomato sauce in the bottom of the casserole dish. Stir in 2 tbsp. of water. Stuff shells using a spoon and place, open side up, in the dish. Some of the shells will be broken, which is okay – you likely won’t use all of the shells.
  6. Top the shells with remaining sauce. Bake for 30 minutes. Cover with optional cheese and bake until melty.

If you prefer/need whole wheat or gluten-free noodles and can’t find jumbo shells, use lasagna noodles. Spread tofu mixture onto cooked noodles and roll up, covering with sauce like you would shells.

Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅙ recipe Calories: 360 Fat: 7 Carbohydrates: 58 Fiber: 7 Protein: 16


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    Tina @ Tina's Chic Corner Mar 14, 2014

    If it’s prepared right, I love tofu. I’m super excited about this recipe because I’ve never seen it used in Italian food before! It looks so yummy and I can’t wait to try it. 🙂

    Allison @ Clean Wellness Mar 07, 2014

    This looks fantastic! I’ve never made tofu ricotta before but I think I need to!

    The Domestic Rebel Mar 05, 2014

    First of all, the first steamy picture? AMAZEBALLS. Second of all, I am really not qualified to even have an answer to the tofu question but screw it, I’ll say it anyway: in the ways I’ve eaten it thus far I like it. So I am purrrrrty sure I’d flip for this ooey gooey stuffed shells dish!!

    Joanne Mar 05, 2014

    The.Boy likes ricotta and will tolerate tofu, but I think this is really the way to win him over! Can’t wait to “test” it out on him!

    fittingintovegan Mar 04, 2014

    Yum, I love this. I totally want to make this for my dad the tofu-hater!!!

    Gretchen @ Two Healthy Kitchens Mar 04, 2014

    So my question is … did you tell him he was eating tofu before or after he ate it and loved it?? Sometimes I do that at home … I make something and then after everyone says they love it I give them the news about what they just ate! My husband is usually ok with it, but the kids sometimes change their minds after they know what was served! 🙂

      Kelly Mar 04, 2014

      Gretchen – Josh has learned for the most part to not ask, because he doesn’t want to know. It’s to the point when I’ll make something totally normal and he’ll just assume there’s something sneaky about his dinner!

    Em @ Love A Latte Mar 04, 2014

    i LOVE DOING THIS!!!! OMG this looks so good! I recently did something liek this but it was penne with layers of the tofu ricotta and spinach. Love it! Can’t wait to make this!

      Kelly Mar 04, 2014

      Thanks, Em! It’s so crazy how delicious a layer of tofu ricotta can be, right?

    cleaneatingveggiegirl Mar 03, 2014

    Tofu ricotta is seriously amazing!! I have used it to make lasagna before and I LOVEd it. I’ll have to gives these a shot 🙂

    Ashley Bee Mar 03, 2014

    These look just as good as the non-vegan ones, awesome job! I loooove stuffed pasta.

    cheri Mar 03, 2014

    Actually I love tofu, it’s my husband that’s funny about it, but if he doesn’t know it’s in there, he will love it. Just pinned.

    reba- Not So Perfect Life Mar 03, 2014

    I love tofu in things. It can really taste like anything which is why it is so versatile. I’ll never forget when my BF said to me “that quiche you made was great!” It was a vegan quiche made from tofu! I am going to make this ricotta asap. Maybe for even just a high protien snack.

    Marnie @ SuperSmartMama Mar 03, 2014

    Kelly, this sounds delicious! I’m not vegetarian or vegan, so I’m curious what nutritional yeast is. Is generally a substitute for cheese?

      Kelly Mar 03, 2014

      Marnie — yes, it is more or less a cheese swap. It doesn’t look like normal yeast (it’s normally in flakes) and is rich in B12. I think people most commonly use it as a seasoning on its own (like sprinkled over popcorn or kale chips), to make a cheese sauce, or to impart a little cheesy flavor, as is the case here. You can find it in bulk bins in natural food stores or order it online. It can be one of those love/hate foods, so if you’re already testing your comfort zone with tofu and are not vegan, you can use Parmesan.