Stuffed Cashew Ricotta Marinara Shells
I know the title is a mouthful. But how else could I explain all that goes into this dish? Vegan Italian Sausage, Marinara, Basil, Cashews, Vegan Parmesan, Spinach... the list goes on. It takes some time to prep and may take even longer if this is your first time stuffing shells... I'm speaking from experience in case you couldn't tell. Yet, the process is fun and the dish is fantastic. I was practically skipping to the lunchroom every day because I was eager to eat this dish. Also, since the ricotta is made with cashews it is quite filling. Four stuffed shells and I had to tap out.
2 cups raw cashews (soaked in water overnight)
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp Himalayan sea salt
1 cup frozen spinach (defrosted)
4 garlic cloves
1 tbs dried oregano
1 tbs fresh basil (minced)
20 jumbo pasta shells
3 cups marinara sauce (if using store bought, 25-ounce jar)
1 cup Italian vegan sausage (crumbled) I used Field Roast.
Red pepper flakes and non-dairy parmesan for topping (I use Follow Your Heart Parmesan)
Preheat the oven to 350°
Cashew Cheese: Drain and rinse the cashews. Transfer to a blender or food processor, add the lemon juice, garlic cloves, and teaspoon of salt. Blend until smooth. The texture should be similar to ricotta cheese. Spoon the cashew cheese into a large bowl and set aside. Place the defrosted spinach in a strainer. Pressed down on the top of the spinach with a clean dish towel to absorb excess water. When the spinach is mostly dry, added it to the cashew cheese along with oregano and basil. Combine well using a spatula. Place cheese mixture in the refrigerator.
Cook the jumbo shells and Italian sausage according to package directions. Rinse the shells under cold water after boiling. Mix the cooked Italian sausage crumbles into the marinara with a spoon.
Pour half the marinara mixture over the bottom of a 9 x 13" baking dish. Using a spoon, scoop the cashew ricotta mixture into each shell and arrange them one by one in the baking dish. Slowly spoon the remaining marinara mixture on top of shells. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Sprinkle the parmesan and red pepper flakes on top and let bake for an additional 5 minutes.