No Cheese Ricotta-Stuffed Pasta Bake
This is an easy, delicious and comforting vegan pasta dish. The fake ricotta is super easy to make and is an excellent substitute for the real thing. This dish is hearty, delicious and something I will make again and again.
cashews, soaked in hot water for at least an hour
1 block tofu
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp nooch
juice of half a lemon
250g jumbo pasta shells
3 shallots, diced
small bag of spinach
handful chopped basil
grated vegan mozzarella cheese (however much you like)
To make the ricotta, put all the ingredients into a blender (apart from the basil, salt and pepper) and whizz together until it makes a paste. As there's not much liquid in the mix it might take a bit of time and a bit of manual mixing to make sure everything is blended consistently.
Stir in the chopped basil and season with salt and pepper. Add more lemon juice if you feel like it, too. Put the ricotta to one side while you make the rest. This could be made ahead if you prefer.
Preheat the oven to 180c
Part-boil the jumbo pasta shells. I cooked them for five minutes, but check the package instruction.
While the pasta is boiling, add a glug of oil into the bottom of a saucepan and heat the shallots until they start going soft.
Pour in the jar of passata and mix with the onion. I also added some salt, pepper and some balsamic vinegar as I feel it helps balance out the sweetness of the sauce. Mix it all together and add the bag of spinach, stirring until it has all wilted. I also added some extra basil at the same time.
Drain your pasta, reserving a spoonful of pasta water and add this to your sauce.
In a baking dish, add about half of the sauce, making sure it covers the base. The rest of the sauce will be added on top later.
Use a teaspoon or piping bag to add the ricotta mixture to the pasta shells, filling as much as possible. Once filled, place open-side up into the pasta sauce.
Once all the shells have been filled, pour the remainder of the sauce over them.
Top with the grated cheese and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the cheese has melted and started to crisp up at the edges.