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Stuffed Shells with Creamy Vegan Lentil Bolognese Sauce
This easy stuffed shells recipe is the perfect introduction to vegan pasta. Whether you’re feeding omnivores or a true carnivore, you can’t wrong with this vegan recipe.
For starters, everyone loves pasta shells. They’re just a fun way to eat pasta. They’re also the perfect vehicle for taking a traditional red sauce pasta dish to new levels. There’s just so much capacity for flavor!
When I think of stuffed shells, I think of a rich savory red sauce and a decadently creamy filling. And while some might think that it’s not possible to accomplish this within a vegan diet, I am here to prove them wrong.
Making the Red Lentil Bolognese Sauce for this Stuffed Shells Recipe
The red sauce for this vegan pasta recipe is really simple and healthy. It’s packed with vegetables, including spinach, carrots, celery and tomatoes. The inclusion of red lentils makes it protein rich, while herbs and spices like basil, parsley and oregano give it a ton of flavor. The richness comes from slow-cooked onions and sautéed tomato paste — two truly umami rich vegan ingredients.
How to Make these Stuffed Shells Creamy
The concept of a creamy vegan recipe often gives non-vegan eaters pause. For many people, the word creamy is synonymous with dairy. That doesn’t have to be the case though. The cream sauce for this vegan pasta recipe is made by blending cashews with garlic, fresh lemon juice, salt, nutritional yeast and water. It’s really that easy!
Cashews: A Key to Vegan Cooking
Cashews are a naturally soft nut that lend well to a blended cream sauce. They’re also high in protein – something vegans are always seeking to add to their recipes. I always keep a bag of them on hand for my vegan recipes — dishes like my Vegan Nacho Cheese or my Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Vegan Nice Cream. If you’d like to learn more about vegan cooking with cashews, check out my Vegu-cation post How to Go Vegan: Why Cashews Are King.
Getting that Cheesy Flavor with Nutritional Yeast
If you’re new to vegan cooking (or dairy-free cooking) then nutritional yeast is an ingredient that you have to get to know. Affectionately referred to as “nooch” in vegan chef circles, nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast that offers up a nutty, cheesy flavor. It’s also a good source of vitamin B12, a sometimes hard-to-get essential vitamin for vegan eaters. To learn more about nutritional yeast, check out my Vegucation post Vegan Cooking 101: What is Nutritional Yeast?
Putting these Vegan Stuffed Shells Together
This vegan pasta recipe has three basic parts — the shells, the red lentil bolognese sauce and the cashew cream sauce. I always start by soaking my cashews. It takes about 30 minutes, so I get them going and then set them aside while I work on the rest of the recipe.
The red lentil bolognese sauce can simmer while the pasta is cooking. I do take the time to brown the onions slowly and sauté the tomato paste. Both of these vegan-friendly ingredients add a lot of flavor to this dish. This sauce is built in layers to add depth, so pay attention to the steps below. I’ve got it all carefully laid out for you!
When the three parts are completed, finishing up this dish is just a matter of plating. I like to create a layer of red lentil bolognese sauce in my serving bowls (by the way, if you’re into styling this dish, be sure to check out my shallow serving bowls below!). Then I stuff each pasta shell with the bolognese sauce and nestle it into a serving bowl. The final step is just a drizzle of cashew cream sauce, some fresh ground pepper and a little extra crushed red pepper if you like spice!
Do These Stuffed Shells Have You Thinking About Other Vegan Pasta Recipe Possibilities?
I don’t blame you! Vegan pasta is an easy way to get a healthy vegan meal on the table. Now that you know a few of the tricks, you’re well on your way to creating rich and savory vegan pasta recipes of your own! In the meantime, make sure to check out these other vegan pasta recipes on my blog:
Looking for the ultimate in vegan comfort food? This pappardelle pasta with an easy kale and white bean ragù sauce will make even the coldest nights warm and cozy. Bring this Italian recipe to your table in a vegan friendly way by adding a healthy cashew cream sauce made with cashews, nutritional yeast and fresh lemon juice.
Vegan Fettuccini Alfredo is the ultimate in vegan comfort food! Made with a rich cashew cream sauce, this plant-based fettuccini alfredo is the perfect vegan dinner option when the weather starts to get cooler.
Lasagna makes pretty much everyone happy and now, with this Easy Vegan Lasagna Recipe, even vegans and plant-based eaters can enjoy this ultimate comfort food. This vegan lasagna recipe not only eliminates meat and cheese, it also replaces heavy white flour noodles with more nutritious ingredients: zucchini noodles and red lentils.
What’s in My Kitchen to Make This Stuffed Shells with Creamy Vegan Lentil Bolognese Vegan Recipe Easier?
Want to know what tools and resources I keep on hand to make my vegan cooking even easier? Here’s a short list of what helped me create this blog post and recipe. For the complete list, visit my Shop where you can find the kitchen gadgets I like as well as a list of books that I recommend.
It’s true – a Vitamix is an expensive blender. But, oh! The things it can do and do well. If you’re interested in getting more into vegan cooking, or you just want to eat healthier, then I think that this is a must-have kitchen tool. I use my Vitamix daily for breakfast smoothies and it really gets the job done when making vegan cheeses.
There are many versions of the Vitamix on the market. This is the version that I have.
I love having a skillet with some depth to it. I use it regularly when making a dish like this where there is some liquid that I need to cook off.
I’m a big fan of stainless aluminum sauté pan. It offers even heat distribution. My favorite part, that extra handle opposite the handle. I don’t know about you, but I can’t pick up a sauté pan with one hand without wondering if my wrist is going to give out before I get it to the other side of the kitchen.