Vegan “Chicotta” Stuffed Shells

Every Christmas for as long as I can remember, my mom and I made hundreds of homemade ravioli. As I child, I remember being in the kitchen with her, making the dough from scratch and stuffing each pasta pillow full of a delicious ricotta-Parmesan mixture. When mom became a vegan, the ricotta was replaced with tofu, but I think this chickpea-based “chicotta” is so much more flavorful! This recipe from is so versatile, the “chicotta” is perfect in any recipe that calls for ricotta… stuffed shells, lasagna, baked ziti, ravioli, you name it!

Vegan Chicotta Stuffed Shells

Container count per 5 shells: ½ blue, 1½ yellow, 1 purple

  • 2 (15 oz) cans of chickpeas
  • 2/3 cup soaked cashews
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 lemon (juice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup cooked spinach
  • 6 cups marinara sauce (store bought, or be a show off and make your own)
  • 12 oz jumbo pasta shells
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup ground cashews


  1. Before getting started, soak the cashews for anywhere between 1-12 hours to soften them up.
  2. Then, combine the cashews, chickpeas (drained & rinsed), nutritional yeast, salt, garlic powder, and lemon juice in a food processor and let it run until the mixture is smooth and creamy. If it happens to be so thick that it crumbles, feel free to add a few tablespoons of water. You want the consistency to somewhat firm, but still creamy.
  3. Transfer this mixture to a bowl and use a spoon to gently fold in about 1 cup cooked spinach (freshly steamed or frozen/defrosted is fine). As with most plant-based cheeses, the flavors and textures of this chicotta improve after being refrigerated for several hours. So while preparing everything else, cover the lovely chicotta and stick it in the refrigerator.
  4. Cook the jumbo shells according to the package instructions. You’ll need about 25 whole shells, and the average (12 oz) box has a bit more than that. Some shells will break or become deformed during cooking, however, so it’s better to make the whole batch and potentially have a few extras.
  5. For best results, gently add the shells to boiling water and remove when just al dente. Gently scoop them out into a colander and transfer the best ones to a plate to prepare for stuffing.
  6. Carefully hold the shell open in one hand and gently spoon in about 2 tablespoons of the chicotta cheese and spinach mixture. This is a tedious process, but take your time and the final results will be completely worth the effort.
  7. Add 2/3 of the marinara sauce to the bottom of a 9×13 pan and place each shell on top. Drizzle the remaining marinara over the top of the shells and finally add a layer of finely-ground cashews (a great substitute for parmesan cheese that can be made by simply blending the nuts into crumbs). Cover this pan with foil and bake at 400º F for about 20 minutes until everything is thoroughly heated.
  8. To serve, spoon some of the marinara sauce onto the plate and rest several shells on the top. Optionally garnish with chopped basil and any extra nuts.

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2 Comments on “Vegan “Chicotta” Stuffed Shells

  1. Hi Sarada, thanks for your question, I didn’t realize I hadn’t worked out the container counts for this recipe! For 5 shells, it would be ½ blue, 1½ yellow, and 1 purple container.


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