Growing up in my house, stuffed shells used to be a regular Italian dish that my mom prepared for us all the time. I wanted to try making a version of my moms recipe with a slight twist. The resulting dish was absolutely delicious and everyone loves them!
This recipe is adapted from Epicurious. Initially, I wasn’t sure about the use of feta cheese instead of traditional mozzarella cheese for a filling in stuffed shells. Feta cheese has a little bit more bite than regular cheeses. It’s usually salty with a pungent taste. But I decided to give it a try anyway and I’m glad I did. Baking the feta in with the rest of the ingredients made the taste mild, subtle, yet tasty. I made a few changes to the original recipe by omitting the eggs, adding more garlic and onions, and adding a few more ingredients to the sauce. The sauce is easily my favorite part of this recipe. I’ve even made the sauce over some Penne Pasta, omitting the stuffed shells, and love it!
I’ve made this Italian dish several times for dinner parties and it’s always been a huge hit! It’s perfect to make for large parties because you can easily prepare the sauce and stuff the shells the day before. Then all you have to do the day of is assemble the tray and bake! I typically serve these shells with a side of salad and fresh garlic bread. Enjoy!
Stuffed Shells with Fresh Herbs
For the Sauce:
- 1/4 cup olive oil or butter
- 1 cup white onions , chopped
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 1/4 teasp dried red crushed pepper
- 2 28-oz. cans Italian Plum Tomatoes , or can chopped Italian tomatoes
- 1 cup fresh basil , chopped
- 1/4 teasp sugar , to taste
For the Filling:
- 30 oz. vegan ricotta cheese , my Herb Vegan Ricotta or store-bought vegan ricotta (see notes below)
- 1/2 cup fresh basil , chopped
- fresh chives , chopped
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 12-oz. package jumbo pasta shells . see notes below for GF option
- vegan feta cheese (optional) see notes below
To Prepare Sauce:
- Heat butter or oil in heavy saucepan. Add onions and garlic and cook for 5 min.
- Add red crushed pepper and saute for 30 sec.
- Add tomatoes. Simmer until the sauce is reduced and mash some of the tomatoes (~ 1 hour). In the meantime, you can start to prepare the filling and cook the shells.
- Season with salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Add fresh basil.
To Prepare Filling & Shells:
- Combine vegan ricotta with chopped basil and chives. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook shells al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Toss shells with some olive oil to avoid sticking (see notes below).
- Spread prepared sauce over the bottom of two 9x13 glass baking dishes.
- Fill 35 shells with vegan ricotta filling and divide them between the 2 dishes forming a single layer of jumbo shells.
- Top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle on top with vegan feta (if using).
- Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Remove and garnish with fresh basil. Serve hot with home-made garlic bread.
This sauce is amazing with lots of flavor and so easy to make! I’ve made it a bunch of times and it’s turned out delicious every time. I’ve used it for the stuffed shells, bow tie pasta, and added some to lasagna. The only change I made was I added a little more sugar to it. It was great!
Gastronomers - Amman & Anjali
Thanks Deepa! The sauce is my favorite part of this recipe…i’ve been meaning to try using it over other pasta recipes!
Hi! If i wanted to make this without feta and with mozzarella is it a 1 to 1 substitution?
Yes…1:1 substitution should be fine. But just FYI, if you don’t want to use feta because of the pungent taste of it, when the feta bakes in, the flavor of it in this dish actually becomes really mild and subtle. Just letting you know in case it’s the reason to switch. But otherwise yes, substituting it will work just fine!