Embrace your inner Italian nanna with these surprisingly creamy stuffed shells using a flavorful, cashew-based ricotta.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for boiling water
1 medium golden onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
10 basil leaves
8 ounces dried pasta shells
2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water overnight
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper
1/2 cup vegan Parmesan or mozzarella, for topping
In a low, wide saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil for about a minute. Add the chopped onions and cook until translucent and golden, about 15 minutes. Stir in the crushed garlic and continue cooking for about 1 minute.
Add the tomato paste and cook until it dissolves a bit, about 3 minutes. Stir in diced tomatoes and allow to cook for about 30 minutes, until thickened. Give it a good stir, then adjust salt accordingly. Remove from heat. Stir in the basil leaves.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drizzle olive oil in, and add the shells. Cook until just before al dente. Using a straining spider, carefully transfer shells to a large bowl of ice water and set aside.
In a food processor, add the cashews, lemon juice and salt. Pulse, scraping the sides occasionally, until the cashews have smoothed out and are mostly creamy. Add water 1 tablespoons at a time, until ricotta texture is achieved.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drain shells. Drizzle with olive oil.
Add 1/2 cup of water to the tomato sauce. Place 3/4 cup of the tomato sauce in the lasagna pan, spreading it out evenly with a rubber spatula.
Line the pasta shells on top of the tomato sauce, covering most of the pan’s surface. Place about a tablespoon of the ricotta into each shell. Ladle the remaining tomato sauce onto the shells. Sprinkle with red pepper, oregano and vegan cheese. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until cheese has browned.
Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.
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