Stuffed Pasta Shells with Tomato sauce

Sometimes the simpler dishes just can't be beaten. All of the ingredient flavours get to stand out, and with a bit of creative flair the end product can still end up beautiful and colourful - so don't skip out on trying this delicious dish!

A plate of pasta filled with tomato sauce

Ingredients 

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 8-10 large tomatoes (or 2 cans diced tomatoes)

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • 1 tbsp tomato paste

  • 2 tsp sugar (or maple syrup)

  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes

  • salt and pepper to taste 

PASTA SHELLS + FILLING 

  • 20 jumbo pasta shells 

  • 400g firm tofu, preferably pressed 

  • 300g package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed firmly against a strainer to remove as much liquid as possible 

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 

  • 1 tsp dried oregano 

  • 1 tsp dried thyme

  • ¼ cup (20g) nutritional yeast

  • 1 tsp salt 

  • ½ tsp pepper 

  • ½ - 1 tsp red pepper flakes 

  • juice from 1 lemon (no more than 3 tbsp lemon juice)

How to make it

  1. To make the sauce, make shallow cross cuts on the bottom of the tomatoes (if using tinned tomatoes, you can skip this step). Place tomatoes in boiling water for around 5 minutes (until skin begins to retract. Remove from water and immediately submerge in ice water. Peel the tomato skin off and cut the stem out. Place the skinless tomatoes in a bowl and mash with a fork, then set aside.

  2. Now heat the oil in a medium pot over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, for 1 minute. Next stir in the crushed tomatoes you just made (or tinned ones), oregano, tomato paste, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 7-10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.

  3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (C) and lightly oil a baking dish (around 23-23cm or 18-28cm).

  4. To cook the shells, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shells and cook, stirring gently occasionally, until al dente (follow packet instructions). Drain well.

  5. To make the filling, crumble tofu into a large bowl. Add the drained spinach, garlic, oregano, thyme, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and lemon juice. Thoroughly mix everything together, making sure to evenly distribute the herbs and spices.

  6. Now to assemble. Coat the bottom of the dish with ½ of the sauce. Generously stuff each pasta shell. Arrange the shells in the baking pan and pour the remaining sauce over the top. Bake for 25 minutes, until bubbly. Serve hot with some fresh basil leafs

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Recipe by Hannah Bacon