Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells
2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water*
juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon salt
16 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
21 jumbo shells
1 (25-ounce) jar marinara sauce
1/4 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs + fresh parsley for topping
Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the box of jumbo shells as directed. It should make more than 21 shells but that’s okay. It’s good to have extra in case some break. Strain the shells, rinse with cold water (so that they don’t stick together) and set aside.
Next make the cashew cheese by draining and rinsing the cashews. Transfer them to a blender or a food processor, add the lemon juice and one teaspoon of salt. Blend on high until smooth with a texture similar to ricotta cheese. You may need to use a spatula to scrape down the sides in between blending. Spoon the cashew cheese out into a large bowl and set aside.
Once the frozen spinach has defrosted, place it in a strainer. Fold a few paper towels together and use them to press on top of the spinach so that the excess water strains out of the bottom. Repeat this step until the spinach is mostly dry. Add it to the bowl with cashew cheese along with the dried herbs, minced garlic and a dash of pepper. Stir everything together until well-combined.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and pour 1/2 of the jar of marinara over the bottom of a 9 x 13” baking dish. Using a spoon, scoop the cashew spinach mixture into each shell then arrange them in the baking dish. Spoon the remaining marinara on top, sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs, then cover the baking dish with foil and bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Top with fresh parsley, serve warm and enjoy!
*Place 2 cups raw cashews in a large bowl and cover with water by a few inches. Soak for at least 6 hours or overnight. Or, if you’re short on time, you can soak them in very hot water for at least 1 hour.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to four days or freeze before baking for up to one month.