This Vegan Pumpkin Ricotta Stuffed Shells Recipe Is the Ultimate Fall Comfort Food

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"Nisha Vora, the lawyer-turned-foodie behind Rainbow Plant Life, is sharing her go-to recipe: pumpkin ricotta stuffed shells."
Eating with the planet in mind isn’t always easy, but the pros are here to help. As part of our new Brightly Bites series, we’re featuring recipes that aren’t just delicious. They also let you cook your way to a brighter future—one bite at a time.

Everyone has their go-to fall comfort foods. For some, that’s fresh-out-of-the-oven pie. For others, it’s a heaping serving of fluffy mashed potatoes. And for Nisha Vora, the lawyer-turned-foodie behind the popular vegan food blog Rainbow Plant Life, that’s pumpkin ricotta stuffed shells.

Vora’s vegan stuffed shells recipe is exactly what it sounds like: Giant pasta shells stuffed with a cheesy, creamy pumpkin and ricotta filling. “It’s the epitome of comfort food for cold weather and pumpkin season,” Vora says. Aside from making it on random weeknights, it’s also the perfect dish to share with friends and family over the holidays.

“Vegans often get the short end of the stick at the holiday table,” Vora says. “But these cheesy, creamy, and garlicky pumpkin-stuffed shells will wow all your family and friends—and they’re surprisingly easy to make.”

Aside from being made with planet-friendly ingredients (despite the cheesiness, there’s no dairy here!), this recipe is also a great way to use leftover pumpkin from carving jack-o’-lanterns. Instead of letting that perfectly good food go to waste, you can blend it up into a homemade pumpkin purée for this dish.

Ready to try it out for yourself? Here’s how to make Vora’s mouth-watering vegan stuffed shells recipe, step by step.

Vegan Pumpkin Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Photo: Nisha Vora

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
Serving Size: 8 servings

Ingredients:

24 to 28 jumbo pasta shells
1 tablespoon olive oil
Tofu Ricotta (recipe below)
1 cup pumpkin purée (canned or homemade)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1/2 cup vegan parmesan cheese (optional)
Garlic Béchamel Sauce (recipe below)
15 fresh sage leaves, sliced or torn up

Tofu Ricotta:

1 (14-ounce) block of extra-firm tofu
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium lemon, juiced and zested
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Garlic Béchamel Sauce:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (13.5 ounce) can “lite” coconut milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil.

2. Cook the pasta shells. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and generously salt the water. Add the jumbo pasta shells and cook according to the box instructions until just al dente (do not overcook!), then drain well.

3. Transfer the cooked pasta shells to a baking sheet and drizzle with the 1 tablespoon olive oil to prevent sticking and set aside.

4. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the Tofu Ricotta. Drain the block of tofu and dab away the excess water with some paper towels. Place the tofu, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and crushed red pepper flakes (if using) in a food processor and pulse repeatedly until the texture is smooth but still a little chunky, similar to the texture of ricotta cheese.

5. Make the pumpkin ricotta filling. In a large bowl, combine the Tofu Ricotta, pumpkin purée, nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, black pepper to taste, and vegan parmesan cheese (if using). Fold the ingredients together using a silicone spatula. Taste the filling and adjust the seasonings accordingly, adding more salt, pepper, or nutmeg as needed. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of the filling into each jumbo pasta shell, and set aside.

6. Make the Garlic Béchamel Sauce. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add the 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add onion and season with a pinch of salt. Cook for 6-7 minutes, or until the onion is softened and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the flour, whisking constantly for a minute until well incorporated. Gradually pour in the lite coconut milk in stages, whisking after each addition to prevent clumps, and then cook for 2 minutes until the sauce has thickened.

7. Transfer the sauce to a blender and add the 1 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Blend until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Taste the sauce for seasonings, adding more salt or pepper as desired.

8. Assemble the dish. Pour 1/2 cup of the Garlic Béchamel Sauce in the prepared baking dish. Arrange the stuffed jumbo shells on top of the sauce. Pour the remaining sauce on top of the shells. Scatter the chopped fresh sage leaves on top of the sauce. Bake the stuffed shells for 25 minutes, or until the pasta shells are lightly golden. Serve warm.


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Nisha Vora, the lawyer-turned-foodie behind Rainbow Plant Life, is sharing her go-to recipe: pumpkin ricotta stuffed shells.

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