Decadent-tasting vegan stuffed shells with almond ricotta and cashew mozzarella from scratch, and a garden vegetable medley.
Prepare the cashew mozzarella and almond ricotta recipes and and set aside until ready to use.
Cook the jumbo pasta shells to al dente in salted water, according to package instructions. After cooking, drain the shells (but do not rinse them) and spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet, cutting board or piece of foil so that they don't stick together.
Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables for the filling. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a wide skillet. Add the shallot, zucchini, squash, and red pepper along with generous pinches of salt and pepper. Continue to cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, or until the veggies are starting to brown nicely and have shrunk in size. Remove from the heat. Stir in the chopped fresh herbs, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
In a mixing bowl, fold the vegetables into the almond ricotta. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Stir in the chickpea flour until combined. (Raw chickpea flour tastes very bad).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread 1/2 cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Fill each jumbo shell with approximately 3 tablespoons of the ricotta-vegetable mixture (I eyeball this and just fill them full). Line up the shells in the baking dish.
Pour the remaining 1 and 1/2 cups of tomato sauce over and around the stuffed shells. Finally, dollop the cashew mozzarella on top as evenly as you can. The mixture can be pretty gloopy so this isn't the easiest to do :) Optionally, also brush a little bit of olive oil on top for more browning.
Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Optionally, remove the foil and broil for another 3 to 4 minutes, watching carefully for browning/burning, to get a better crust on the cashew mozzarella.
Serve hot. Leftovers keep well. If you'd like to freeze this dish I recommend doing so without the cashew mozzarella, and adding that when reheating.
WHOLE WHEAT: Crowd-sourcing this one. I haven't been able to find whole wheat jumbo shells in any store OR online. If you know where to find them, let us know in the comments! If you'd like to make this dish whole wheat, try rolling up the filling in WW lasagna noodles.
GLUTEN-FREE/WHOLE GRAIN: Tinkyada Brown Rice Grand Shells are available online, although I haven't come across them in a brick-and-mortar store.
NUT-FREE OPTION: Use your favorite nut-free mozzarella-style sauce or omit. For the filling, use tofu-cauliflower ricotta.
OIL-FREE: To keep this dish oil-free use an oil-free tomato sauce, and cook the vegetables without oil in a non-stick pan (or roast them).
UNUSED SHELL PASTA TIP: Usually I boil a whole 12 oz. package of jumbo shells all at once and fill as many as my filling and baking dish will accommodate; amounts here are approximate. With the remaining cooked shells, I use a sharp knife to cut them into strips and then use them as short noodles in another pasta dish.