If you follow me on any other social media you’ll know that almost 3 months ago I jumped into plant-based eating (essentially vegan-ism but more accurate to my diet rather than lifestyle). One of my goals while learning how to cook with only plant proteins is to recreate some of my favorite dishes from my childhood. This is the first of hopefully many recipes that will help me and you think about how we can eat within any dietary scheme and still carry on our nostalgia of home cooked meals and the memories we have surrounding them.
2 x 12oz packaged extra firm tofu
Juice of 1 Lemon
Olive oil, to consistency (about 3 tbsp)
2 tsp sea salt
3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
1 Tbsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp onion powder
3 Large handfuls of fresh spinach
1 Box Enriched Macaroni Product Pasta Shells (The big ones)
2 jars of your favorite pasta vegan pasta sauce, or homemade (about 6 cups)
13″ x 9″ Baking Pan
Preheat Oven to 400˚F.
In large stock pot, begin boiling 3 quarts of water, seasoned with salt and olive oil.
In food processor, Mix on high tofu (broken into chunks), lemon juice, sea salt, nutritional yeast, cayenne pepper, black pepper, oregano, onion powder, and olive oil.
Adjust olive oil amount to get consistency of traditional ricotta. Taste and adjust spices to match your taste or a family recipe.
Push handfuls of spinach in to the ricotta-like paste, cover, and blend until all spinach is incorporated. Set aside to allow spices and flavors to soak into the tofu.
Once the water is boiling add pasta shells and boil for 9 minutes or until just undercooked. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool enough to handle.
Pour one jar, or about half of the total sauce you have into the baking pan.
Fill a gallon zip-loc bag (what I call the poor-man’s piping bag) with the tofu ricotta, pushing as much air out as you can before resealing the top. Squeeze the mixture into one non-zip corner of the bag and twist the opposite end. Carefully cut off one corner making a piping hole about 1/2 inch wide.
Pipe the mixture into each shell until it is very full. Place the filled shells into the pan on the sauce, open side up. Fill the pan with one layer of shells and if you have more shells, fill them and gently push them in between the ones in the pan already (they tend to reconfigure so that they can all fit (it’s like VSEPR theory if you’ve ever studied chemistry). Once all shells are in place in one layer, pour the remainder of the sauce over the shells and spread it evenly with a rubber spatula.
Cover the dish with tinfoil and place in the pre-heated oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
After removing the shells from the oven be careful pulling back the tinfoil due to built up steam. Test one shell to see if the ricotta has setup nicely and serve hot.
Marvel in your creation and be amazed that you just made something so comforting and delicious purely from plants.