These Pumpkin and Cashew Ricotta Vegan Stuffed Shells are topped with Sage Béchamel Sauce for a delicious plant-based pasta dish that the whole family will love.
It’s time for another look back into one of my oldest, and yet, most popular posts. Originally published 10/13 (that’s nearly 5 years ago!!) these Vegan Stuffed Shells with Pumpkin and Cashew Ricotta have been in dire need of a little makeover.
But before we get to the recipe, let’s talk about how it’s almost October!
October is my absolute favorite month of the year. What’s not to love? Halloween. Rocky Horror Picture Show. Beautiful chilly mornings with Spicy Chai Lattes. Cozy evenings near a fire. Sweaters and scarves. Corn mazes and hay rides. Apple Cider Donuts. What am I forgetting? Oh yes, pumpkin.
Lots of pumpkins.
I warned those of you who subscribe to my newsletter that, because of some magical, mysterious, miracle, I have an entire pumpkin patch growing in my backyard. And what does that mean?
A whole lotta pumpkin recipes coming your way. So let’s commence with the first one of the season.
I love these pumpkin stuffed shells because:
- they are delightfully seasonal
- and incredibly delicious
- surprisingly easy to make
- yet, thoroughly impressive
Let’s talk about how to make these vegan stuffed shells.
How to make Vegan Pumpkin Stuffed Shells
Step one – boil the jumbo pasta shells
These pasta shells get cooked like most other pasta but for this recipe, you will want to make sure not to cook your shells past al dente – that means it’s slightly firm. If they are too soft, they will tear when filled. But don’t worry. Since they bake 40 minutes in creamy Béchamel sauce, they will get plenty soft when all is said and done.
Once your pasta shells are done, set them aside to cool enough so that you can handle (stuff) them.
Step two – make the cashew ricotta
The cashew ricotta is a quick, 5-minute recipe that involves blending cashews with nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and a few spices. While I typically recommend using a Vitamix for blended cashew recipes, in this case, since you’re looking for the consistency of ricotta cheese, a food processor works great!
Once the cashew ricotta is made, it gets mixed with pumpkin purée and a few spices for a creamy, rich, sweet, savory filling that is oh so good!
Step three – make the Sage Béchamel Sauce
As far as this recipe goes, your Béchamel Sauce is the only component that takes a bit of work. Béchamel is a basic roux made from frying flour in butter to create a thick, creamy sauce. Vegan Béchamel is surprisingly simple. With vegan butter (I use Miyoko’s) and unsweetened non-dairy milk, you can make a creamy and delicious sauce as good as the original.
Step four – Assemble the shells
To stuff the shells, take a single shell and gently press it open from the top and the bottom with your finger, opening it up width-wise (rather than lengthwise). Scoop 2 heaping tablespoons of pumpkin ricotta inside each shell and place them in your prepared pan. Repeat until all shells are gone. You will likely have a few torn shells, so I always make about 4-5 extra shells for this recipe.
That’s it! Cover with Béchamel Sauce, thrown in the oven, and bake.
Forty minutes later and you have a delicious, warm, seasonal, pasta dish that will impress all your family and friends. It’s a fall staple in my house and, if you make it, you will see why!
Serving and storing vegan stuffed shells
- Serve these pumpkin stuffed shells immediately. I like to add some extra bechamel sauce, toasted hazelnuts, and fresh sage.
- Serve the shells with a big Caesar salad or homemade soup
- Tightly wrap any leftover shells and store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days of the freezer for 1 month.
Can these pumpkin shells be made in advance?
Yes! Make the shells according to the instructions below. If you are going to be storing the shells, wrap them in plastic wrap before baking them and place in the refrigerator or freezer.
To bake frozen shells, let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking them. They will need a little longer in the oven since they will be chilled.
I think that’s all you need to know about making the perfect vegan stuffed shells. Let’s take a look at the recipe card below!
These Pumpkin and Cashew Ricotta Vegan Stuffed Shells are topped with Sage Béchamel Sauce for a delicious plant-based pasta dish the whole family will love.
Keyword: Vegan Stuffed Shells
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 232 kcal
Author: Sarah McMinn
- 1 tbsp fresh sage, minced
- 1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped
- freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare the jumbo shells according to packaged directions. Strain through water when shells are al dente. Do not overcook as they will become too tender to stuff. Allow shells to cool while preparing the filling.
- In a food processor blend together the ingredients for the Cashew Ricotta until it begins to resemble ricotta cheese. Transfer to a large bowl. Add pumpkin puree, garlic, dried herbs, salt and pepper and mix to combine. Set aside.
To make Béchamel Sauce, heat vegan butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once butter is melted, add flour and stir for 3-4 minutes, until mixture is golden-brown and fragrant.
In another pot, bring milk and minced garlic, sage, and nutmeg to a boil. Add hot milk to butter/flour mixture in 3 batches. Bring to a boil, whisking often, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, whisking constantly. Once thick and creamy, remove from heat and set aside. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Pour half of the Béchamel Sauce into a 9x13 baking pan. To stuff shells, gently press the top and the bottom with your fingers so that shells open width-wise. Spoon in 2 heaping tablespoons of pumpkin/ricotta filling and place in the pan on top of the Béchamel Sauce. Repeat until all the filling is gone. Top with remaining Béchamel Sauce.
- Cover with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes until sauce is hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and allow shells to cool slightly before serving.
Serve with fresh sage, hazelnuts, and freshly ground pepper.
Transfer any leftovers into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.