dairy-free stuffed shells

by jenna on July 29, 2011

Holyyyyyy smack. I think I have a new favorite dinner recipe.

Stuffed shells have always been one of my favorite foods. But….I don’t love the way eating a large plate of the cheesy goodness makes me want to curl up for a nap in stretchy pants.

Enter this vegan variation! The filling is tofu (gasp!), olive oil, garlic and nutritional yeast. The mixture looks scarily similar to ricotta and tastes that way, too.

I made these shells a few days ago and snuck a tupperware full of them into Adam’s fridge when he was at work with a little post-it that was scribbled with sweet nothings.

And then, I waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

Finally, I just headed over to his house because clearly he had not opened the fridge yet. And I was right! I’m always right.

I waited until the entire plate was clean before I told him it was tofu. “That’s cool, is there more?” he asked nonchalantly.

I really love that boy.

Head over to the PBS blog for the recipe!

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{ 96 comments… read them below or add one }

Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance July 29, 2011 at 4:30 am

Awesome! :) LOVE stuffed shells & pasta

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Molly @ RDexposed July 29, 2011 at 4:34 am

1. I am eager to make these.
2. I don’t know who I want together more: You & Adam or Finn & Rachael (I’m in a recent Glee addiction as well).

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Lauren at Keep It Sweet July 29, 2011 at 4:37 am

These look amazing! Congrats on the new gig!

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Heather (Heather's Dish) July 29, 2011 at 4:41 am

i’m impressed…if a boy can’t tell then it must be just like using the traditional ingredients!

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Erin @ Naturally Addicted July 29, 2011 at 4:42 am

I’m so excited to make this! I can’t have too much dairy so this is perfect! Thanks!

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Erin @ Naturally Addicted July 29, 2011 at 4:42 am

I’m so excited to make this! I can’t have too much dairy so this is perfect! Thanks!

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Lauren @ What Lauren Likes July 29, 2011 at 4:43 am

Sounds amazing! it looks amazing! and I know it tastes amazing :)

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Holly @ The Runny Egg July 29, 2011 at 4:43 am

Good call with the tofu — I used to eat stuffed shells in college all the time ( it was the one good dish my roommate knew how to make!) and I want to make them for Jason but cannot have dairy in there – problem solved!

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Blog is the New Black July 29, 2011 at 4:45 am

I haven’t made stuffed shells in forevs! I need to make some. These look great- going to check out the recipe now!

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Ruth July 29, 2011 at 4:46 am

Wow! This looks great – and subbing the cheese for tofu is right up my street – less stodge and more protein! Yay!

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Amanda July 29, 2011 at 4:47 am

What a unique idea! :)

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Sarah@The Flying ONION July 29, 2011 at 4:54 am

I am such a sauce girl. Anything with a rich tomato sauce has me swooned. Love this! :D

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat July 29, 2011 at 5:01 am

What a genius recipe! I hear ya on the stretchy pants – although I do love my Lulus, the feeling of being stuffed with cheese is not a fun one. Gorgeous photos Jenna!

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Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga July 29, 2011 at 5:13 am

They look wonderful, Jenna!

And I love how the Le Creueset red baking dish in the background makes the red sauce on the shells look even redder and prettier!

And doing the sneaky chef thing to get a man to love plant-based foods…I have done my fair share over the years :)

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amy walters, aDESIGNdock July 29, 2011 at 5:13 am

Oh…I love hearing about you and your “boy”! Your stories are always the cutest and your recipes never fail to intrigue me ;) Wishing you a fabulous Friday and weekend!

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Maria@healthydiaries July 29, 2011 at 5:23 am

You always seize to amase me! I hope I can get my hubby to eat this along with me!

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Em July 29, 2011 at 5:39 am

Great idea! I love the “cheese fakeout” concept. :)

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Kristen @ Popcorn on the Stove July 29, 2011 at 5:40 am

We make these ALL the time! They’re one of my favorite vegan dishes. In fact, when we went to my fiancee’s house for Easter, his family all ate stuffed shells (with cheese) and I had this version. Everyone kept trying to eat mine!

We also tried making it with salmon and spinach mixed in with the ricotta. It’s also really yummy!!

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Genie July 29, 2011 at 5:42 am

I must admit, I am terrified of preparing tofu because of failed attempts… but I might just have to take a stab at this one. It looks DELISH!

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Lisa @ Sunny Seed Stories July 29, 2011 at 5:49 am

Tofu terrifies me a little too, Genie, but I agree, this dish looks so worth it!

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Baking N Books July 29, 2011 at 6:54 am

Yeah, it’s not working with tofu so much – it’s the actual tofu and what’s IN it…:(

But pasta always gets my vote ! Although I think I’d stick to just small portions of goat cheese :)

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kaila@ healthy helper blog! July 29, 2011 at 5:43 am

Yum…..dairy free always catches my attention!!

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Erin @ Cooking on Whim July 29, 2011 at 5:54 am

I haven’t experimented much with tofu, but this may be the recipe to do it with!

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Alexia (Dimple Snatcher) July 29, 2011 at 5:55 am

GAH, this is perfect since I was only just thinking yesterday that I’d love stuffed shells but couldn’t bother with the all that cheese!

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Brooke @ BittersweetBrooke July 29, 2011 at 5:58 am

The tofu really does look like ricotta! I think this might be the best and easiest way to introduce people to tofu without them looking at it as something foreign and strange and it sounds like an easy way to prepare it too!

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Sarah@sarahssweetlips July 29, 2011 at 6:07 am

Mmm…this sounds really good. I love to trick my boyfriend into eating healthy foods, too, but I think he’d freak out if he ate tofu. I just wouldn’t tell him.

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Alex Eats Green July 29, 2011 at 6:12 am

I’m Italian – so you should have seen my family’s faces when I told them not only was I going vegetarian, but I was trying to eat a mostly plant-based diet. It was like that scene from Big Fat Greek Wedding “Good. So I make you lamb.” They just don’t understand. But that’s ok! Because now I have this recipe in my arsenal to rival them with! I will be making this stat and pushing it in their faces. Thank you!!

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Gina @ Running to the Kitchen July 29, 2011 at 6:14 am

I just saw a ricotta look alike with tofu earlier this week but was skeptical. I guess if it’s Adam approved it’s pretty good though!

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Kimberly Jurado July 29, 2011 at 6:15 am

looks great!…where can I find the nutritional value breakdown of your recipes? thanks!

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jenna July 29, 2011 at 6:16 am

I don’t provide nutritional breakdowns for any of my recipes—I’m sorry!

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amy July 29, 2011 at 7:37 am

If you’d like, you can enter the ingredients & number of servings into SparkRecipes.com and it will give you a nutritional breakdown – I’ve used it before for recipes that I’m experimenting with :)

Amy

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amy July 29, 2011 at 7:39 am

**that reply o’ mine was supposed to go under Kimberly’s question for her use (well, and yours, Jenna, if you want it, but primarily to answer Kimberly’s question :)) – sorry about that!

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Hilliary@HappilyEverHealthy July 29, 2011 at 6:15 am

These look amazing! I have read several vegan/vegetarian recipes that replace the ricotta cheese with tofu. I have been wanting to try it. I am not so sure if I could get my boyfriend on board with the tofu thing (maybe I just won’t tell him)! Great post!

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Amy July 29, 2011 at 6:20 am

Those look delicious! If you want to try another vegan ricotta recipe, the cashew-tofu ricotta from Veganomicon (might be online somewhere) is my absolute fave. :)

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Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama} July 29, 2011 at 6:24 am

I’ve never been a fan of tofu ricotta, but I trust your palate. This must be good. :-)

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jenna July 29, 2011 at 6:27 am

these look really good, i’m not a fan of tofu! but they look very tempting

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Shari @ Chicago Cuisine Critique July 29, 2011 at 6:38 am

These look great. Although, I’m not sure how I feel about tofu..but maybe i’d give it a try?

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Jess July 29, 2011 at 6:42 am

I love using tofu as a ricotta substitute :) Once you season it, it tastes great.

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Joyce @ Jranola Joyce July 29, 2011 at 6:42 am

perfection.
ah :)

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elgal July 29, 2011 at 6:48 am

I make something similar, only I use soaked, pulsed cashews as “cheese”… And no nutritional yeast.. And I add lemon. It’s “fooled” many a dinner guest.

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Baking N Books July 29, 2011 at 6:57 am

I never thought about that…that’s a good idea too.

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Faith @ For the Health of It July 29, 2011 at 6:50 am

I just about crapped myself when I got my guy to try some tofu…and the fact that he willingly ate it again a few days later blew my mind!

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Jesse July 29, 2011 at 7:01 am

THIS IS GENIUS!! I love how versatile tofu is. I may be sneaking this one on my parent’s soon…and taking your idea of telling them it was tofu AFTER they eat it :P

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Casey @ Pocket Full of Sunshine July 29, 2011 at 7:06 am

Haha good for Adam–if I told my BF I fed him tofu he would probably go scour his tongue with a scrub brush. He HATES tofu with a passion…and yes, sadly, he’s tried it.

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Anna Crouch July 29, 2011 at 7:06 am

OMG. As I was in bed last night (yes, on the verge of falling asleep), I was dreaming up a way to make vegan lasagna. You’re a genius!

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Stacie @ Imperfectly Healthy July 29, 2011 at 7:08 am

I can’t wait to try this recipe! I’ve been trying to come up with meal ideas that don’t use animal protein that my husband would actually eat! Thank you! :)

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Jessica July 29, 2011 at 7:14 am

I’ll have to try this recipe out on my husband who eats live a five year old. But somehow I’ll have to hide the tofu….I’ll distract him with ESPN!

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French Heart July 29, 2011 at 7:34 am

Wow….looks great.

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amy July 29, 2011 at 7:34 am

ohhhhhhh snap, Jenna!!!!!!!! You just made my weekend with this killer recipe!!!!!

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katie July 29, 2011 at 7:41 am

i have a package of tofu in my fridge and i think i now know what to do with it!

do you know if this recipe freezes well?

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Carissa @ Fit To Indulge July 29, 2011 at 7:48 am

A Texan eating tofu…. Go you! Getting men to eat outside their box is like sneaking veggies into a kid’s meal. Luckily my sweetie is adventurous too. :)

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Karen July 29, 2011 at 8:04 am

This looks terrific…thanks for a veganized recipe!

Have a wonderful weekend, Jenna!

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Cait's Plate July 29, 2011 at 8:06 am

I think I officially need to begin to incorporate “holy smack” into my vocabulary from here on out. Amazing.

There are no words for the dishes you create, except maybe, “send me some?!” :)

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Courtney July 29, 2011 at 8:11 am

Yummy, i love nutritional yeast it so tasty and we love shells! Might have to try this one of these days!

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Kristen @ Chocolate Covered Kristen July 29, 2011 at 8:17 am

Hahaha – I go this allllll the time! If there is tofu, tempeh, some veggie the bf claims he doens’t like, etc. I wait until after he says he liked it to break the news.

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Kelsey @ aslolife July 29, 2011 at 8:35 am

Yum!! I have a good friend who is vegan and is definitely opening my eyes to all the different things you can cook. Although, I think I would have to trick my husband with these too, he has an inherent distrust of tofu!

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Candice July 29, 2011 at 8:47 am

Those look so good!

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Michelle | Gold-Hearted Girl July 29, 2011 at 8:58 am

This looks AMAZING! I’m trying it ASAP.

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Amber K July 29, 2011 at 9:00 am

I always get nervous reading “dairy-free” in a recipe title because that means 99% of the time that it is not soy-free. But you’re one of the people I trust when it comes to recipes, so for those who can handle soy I would totally recommend this. It looks good!

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Girl in the pink July 29, 2011 at 9:08 am

Yum, I love stuffed shells, but can’t deal with the cheese coma I get afterwards!

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Emilie July 29, 2011 at 9:31 am

I am so craving stuffed shells now…you have no idea! Have a wonderful weekend!

From Running with Mascara!

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Lindy July 29, 2011 at 9:39 am

Sweet! I wonder if my boyfriend would be able to tell the difference ;) I can’t have dairy, and I use a lot of vegan recipes so my ears definately perked up when I saw “dairy-free” in your title. :) Thanks for sharing – I’ll have to try this sometime.

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Jackie @ That Deep Breath July 29, 2011 at 9:41 am

I loooove stuffed shells. One of my favorite dishes, but one I hardly ever have!

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Dani July 29, 2011 at 10:07 am

Hahahaha, I love that story! These also look delicious!

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ami@dashofcurry.com July 29, 2011 at 10:53 am

Those look so delicious–I’m going to use the idea for the filling for a lasagna too!

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Michelle July 29, 2011 at 11:38 am

Thank you for veganizing this! I’ve been checking out stuffed shell filling for awhile, something that appeases the cheese eating man in my life. Thank you thank you thank you!

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michelle @ the cooking life July 29, 2011 at 11:53 am

I admit, I’m wary of tofu. But this looks amazing! I *may* just have to try it. Thanks for sharing!

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Meghan July 29, 2011 at 12:32 pm

YES, bookmarked! One of my favorite comfort foods that I can make dairy free! No allergic reaction for mee

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Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather July 29, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Too cute! And I cannot wait to make this! Love using tofu as a substitute.

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Danielle July 29, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Just curious — How do tofu and cheese work/taste together? I was wondering if it’s possible to use both cheese and tofu in recipes such as this with the aim to drastically reduce the amount of cheese used but not necessarily eliminate. I’m still a newbie at tofu and so far the only way I’ve gotten my husband to eat it is to fry it and to me “Fried Tofu” sounds like an oxymoron!

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Katie July 31, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Hi Danielle,

I’ve actually done that using Cooking Light’s baked lasagna recipe, where they combine tofu and ricotta. http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/baked-vegetable-lasagna-10000001949714/

It’s really good! It’s totally possible to combine the two, I would recommend you try the above recipe. My family didn’t even realize that half of the filling was tofu!

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Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin July 29, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Stuffed pasta is one of my favourite comfort foods ever! I only have it every so often hough because it’s so heavy. I love this lighter twist on it!

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liz July 29, 2011 at 5:52 pm

You need to stop making us click so many times to get to one recipe! First there was the read more link now, you keep asking us to click to tasty kitchen or somewhere else. I’m sorry but I find it a bit much, and you are free to say if you dont like it please leave.

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Liz @ Tip Top Shape July 29, 2011 at 6:10 pm

I’ve seen tofu used in place of ricotta in a lot of vegan recipes. I haven’t tried it yet! My Italian self is resisting, lol.

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Baking Serendipity July 29, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I love stuffed shells but have definitely never made them with tofu before! These look fantastic and I love the way you snuck them to Adam :) Will definitely have to try this recipe out on my husband.

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Victoria (Sweet and Healthy Living) July 29, 2011 at 8:45 pm

That is impressive that he couldn’t tell it was tofu! I do the same sort of filling in my vegan spanakopitas (http://sweethealthyliving.com/2011/07/vegan-spanakopita-rolls-with-parsley-mustard-cream-sauce/)… I will have to try your recipe, it looks delicious! :D

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Victoria @ The Pursuit of Hippieness July 31, 2011 at 12:26 pm

This looks SO good! Such a great idea to use tofu… I have some lying around that I’ve been trying to figure out what to use for! I’ll definitely be giving this a try!

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Ruthy @ The Inspired Latin Cook July 31, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Jenna,
What’s the point of adding yeast to a recipe? Does it chemically do something to the ingredients?

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Megan August 1, 2011 at 5:22 pm

The nutritional yeast is used to give it a “cheesy” taste w/o the cheese :)

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Megan August 1, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Jenna – I tried this tonight – delish! The only thing i noticed is that it was a tad too salty so I added more tofu – thank goodness I had 2 packages. My boyfriend has NO idea he ate tofu tonight…and he won’t until the pan is clean :) THANKS!

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Brianna August 1, 2011 at 7:49 pm

I just made these for dinner… so good! I didn’t have nutritional yeast so I subbed parmesan cheese so they weren’t dairy free, but definitely way less heavy than using ricotta cheese. I think I even fooled my younger sister! They were a hit with my mom and aunt, who was somewhat skeptical :) Awesome recipe! :)

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Kelsey @ A Piece of Kelsey August 1, 2011 at 9:05 pm

I made these tonight for my boyfriend (who scoffs when I eat tofu – or even cook it for that matter!!). I made sure to do all of the prep and stuffing before he got home. I sprinkled some cheese on top just to deter him a little bit since I would normally put cheese on ricotta stuffed shells. And – success! He doesn’t even know…and I don’t plan on telling him until after he eats the 2 Tupperwares of leftovers for lunch. :) And even then…I might keep this one a secret!!!

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whitney August 2, 2011 at 9:14 am

This is amazing. I made it on Sunday and already want to make it again next week. thanks for posting!

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Carissa August 2, 2011 at 12:19 pm

This filling sounds like it’d work really well for lasagna, too. And it’s super easy, unlike some vegan “ricotta” mixes I’ve seen. Can’t wait to try it!

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Bridget August 7, 2011 at 4:19 pm

I recommend adding some more flavor to this. I found it very bland.

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Lindy August 8, 2011 at 3:15 pm

I just made these over the weekend and YUMYUMYUM!!! I can’t have dairy, so I was delighted to see this recipe pop up.

P.S. The boyfriend had some and 10 minutes later, his plate was clean. He ate tofu and didn’t even know it ;)

Thank you!

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Lindy August 8, 2011 at 3:17 pm

P.S.S. I noticed it was a bit salty too – I’ll use less next time. :)

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Nessa August 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I finally got a chance to try one of your recipes, it tasted as good as your pictures look. I made it last night, but used quinoa mini shells instead and mixed rather than stuffed them together. The flavor was perfect, thanks for a great recipe. I will definitely make this again.

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Kelsey August 26, 2011 at 2:58 pm

You’re so funny.. I used to do that with my dad all the time. If I told him there was tofu in something beforehand he would gross-out on me, but when I’d trick him, he’d act like it was no big deal. With my boyfriend, I used to do something called “the hidden vegetable” and he’d have to guess what veggie I snuck into his dinner.

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Brandi October 10, 2011 at 7:47 am

Jena,

Do you press the tofu for a while before you process it, or literally just drain the water and pat the tofu dry?

Thanks!

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jenna October 10, 2011 at 9:43 am

I didn’t press it—I just drained and crumbled for this one.

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Ananda Rollason October 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Is this recipe secret? I have tried to find it here and on the PBS website and there are no directions anywhere…

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Kristina January 23, 2012 at 11:55 am

I’m so excited to try this recipe! I do a lot of baking at home so I try to make dinner’s without dairy (I can’t have a lot dairy, its very sad!) . I’ve missed being able to eat stuffed shells! Thanks so much for this recipe :)

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Laura December 10, 2012 at 4:54 pm

These were sooo good! I made them for dinner tonight and added goat cheese instead of the nutritional yeast and they turned out great! Thanks for the awesome idea!!!

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Britt January 17, 2013 at 10:29 am

I made these over the weekend and my husband and I have been eating leftovers all week! The first time he ate them (he does not eat dairy free) – he didn’t even add the parmesan I bought for him on top. BIG hit!

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Dana Alexandra April 7, 2014 at 6:58 am

I made these on Saturday night, I had a friend over for the weekend and she is a vegan. Not only did she love it, my husband loved it as well! He had no idea it was tofu, and enjoyed the leftovers the next day. I think this will definitely be a staple meal in our home, and a great freezer meal!

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