A classic Italian dinner recipe made-over so everyone can enjoy. Gluten-Free Stuffed Shells with Vegan Almond Ricotta and a homemade sun-dried tomato sauce! A cozy family meal that leaves bellies full and hearts warm!
The two big pasta dishes in my Italian family were always ziti and stuffed shells, (never lasagna! Is that weird?). My mom tended to make ziti at home just as a normal dinner and my grandmother would be the one to make stuffed shells for special holidays/parties. No matter what form, pasta + cheese + sauce always seemed to be a favorite of everyone! So let’s just say with a diet free of gluten and dairy, I haven’t had stuffed shells in many…MANY years! (An Italian tragedy!)
One of those holidays and/or big gatherings where stuffed shells were served was Christmas Eve/Christmas. Stuffed shells are an easy dish to make for a crowd (and it gives you some damn good leftovers!) It’s definitely under the category of comfort food. A comfort food that will forever remind me of my family. Okay, and it reminds me of feeling super sick (i.e. when I didn’t know I had celiac disease!)
On a quest to bring back this classic just in time for the holidays some gluten-free stuffed shells needed to happen! The only brand I’d ever found, easily, in stores that made gluten-free shell pasta was Tinkyada. Tinkyada was one of the first brands of gluten-free pasta I had, but I’d never tried their shells and always wanted to! Then to remedy the “ricotta” cheese to be dairy (scary) free, why not use some Kite Hill almond ricotta! I also decided to go all out on the homemade sauce. We’re talking some sundried tomato goodness in there!
Although stuffed shells can be a messy dish, these came out pretty fancy! The flavors are all so rich and deep! I was even able to fool my family into thinkings these were not “free-from”. When you can do that, you know it’s a win! Like I said above, stuffed shells are also such a great leftover or make-ahead dish. So easy to re-heat, making them super freezer-friendly! One of those “housewarming” dishes to give to a loved one or friend in need of a prepped meal they can just heat up.
‘Tis the holiday season of warmth and cozy comfort. And ’tis the cold winter months where pasta, “cheese”, and delicious homemade tomato sauce is more than needed…weekly! At least now we can say this classic Italian comfort food is a wee bit healthier and gluten-free. Brown rice shells, fancy almond ricotta, sun-dried tomato sauce? Elegant and soul-soothing! You can say this is my 3rd generation “modern” take on this classic staple dish from my family (and now, yours too!)
Gluten-Free Stuffed Shells with Vegan Almond Ricotta
- 8oz (1 box) Tinkyada Brown Rice Shell Pasta
- 1 Container Kite Hill Almond Ricotta
- ¼ Cup Fresh Chopped Parsley
- 1 Tsp Smoked Paprika
- Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce:
- 1 15oz Can of Plain Tomato Sauce (salt-free)
- ½ Cup Sundried Tomatoes (in oil)
- 1 Shallot (chopped)
- 1 Tsp Minced Garlic
- ½ TB Dried Tarragon
- 1 Tsp Dried Marjoram
- ¼ Tsp Black Pepper
- Sliced Almonds (to top, optional)
- Chopped Parsley (to top, optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Boil the pasta in a large pot for about 14 minutes, rinse in cold water, and set aside.
- Combine all the sauce ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
- In a small bowl, combine the almond ricotta with the chopped parsley and smoked paprika, mix well.
- In a greased 8x8 baking dish, layer in ½ cup of sauce.
- Stuff each shell with about 1 tablespoon of the ricotta mixture and place them in the sauce lined baking dish (tightly packed). Then add the rest of the sauce on top of the stuffed shells.
- Cover the baking dish with foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Remove and top with the sliced almonds and additional chopped parsley if desired.
Are you ready for some remade stuffed shells? Really guys, I’m telling you, just because you’re gluten-free/allergy-free/vegan, does not mean you can’t have the classics anymore! Family traditions can life on, just in a new and modern way 😉 Twists on our favorites can STILL be our favorites!
So tell me:
+ Do you have a classic pasta dish in your family?
+ Do you like sun-dried tomatoes? I love their smokiness!
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