Healthy Recipe: Italian Butternut Squash & Spinach Stuffed Shells w/ Basil Cream {vegan}

Healthy Recipe: Italian Butternut Squash & Spinach Stuffed Shells w/ Basil Cream {vegan}
Category: Health Author: Martha Miller
This lightened up twist on an Italian classic packs all the decadence and satisfaction of the original, while sparing you from all that creamy dairy. Tofu makes a convincing substitute for ricotta, and packs more healthy protein into each bite. Cashews in the creamy basil sauce add healthy fats, to help your body absorb all the vitamins and minerals in this recipe. Lycopene rich tomato sauce, vitamin C and potassium packed butternut squash, and zinc and vitamin K rich spinach round out this healthy dish. If cooking for a smaller group, you can half the recipe- but know that it keeps and reheats well, and makes for a delicious and healthy meal all week long.

Serves: 6-8

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Tofu Ricotta Ingredients:

  • 1- 14 ounce package firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup basil cream

Tofu Ricotta Directions:

  • In a blender or food processor, combine all the above ingredients until blended but still chunky and textured. Alternatively, you can just crumble the tofu and mix in the remaining ingredients.

Basil Cream Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews (soaked for at least one hour and at most overnight)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • The zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic from your tomatoes
  • 3-4 tablespoons cold water, as needed
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 4 tablespoons fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Basil Cream Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients together in a high-speed blender, adding more water as needed, and scraping down the sides of the mixer and blending until you have a creamy, smooth mixture. Season to taste, adding more salt, pepper, or lemon juice as needed.

Assembly Ingredients:

  • 3 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup cubed butternut squash, roasted until tender
  • 2 cups spinach, sautéed until tender (add sliced garlic if desired)
  • 1 package jumbo pasta shells, cooked in salted water per package instructions

Assembly Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a large casserole dish, spread 2 cups of the tomato sauce in an even layer.
  • In a bowl, mix together the tofu ricotta, roasted butternut squash cubes, and cooked spinach.
  • Fill each cooked pasta shell with roughly 2 tablespoons of the tofu ricotta butternut squash mix. Arrange each stuffed shell filled side up on top of the tomato sauce in the casserole dish.
  • Once all the shells are filled, spoon the remaining 1 cup tomato sauce over the shells, cover the whole dish with foil, and bake for 20 minutes.
  • To serve, drizzle the basil cream over the whole dish, and garnish with fresh basil if desired. Enjoy!

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