Cheese-free Manicotti

I really really really wanted stuffed shells for dinner.  I saw Jenna’s post when I was planning dinner, which is when the craving hit.  We were already planning on having lasagna, so I had everything on hand…minus the shells.

I went to 3 grocery stores.  No shells.  Anywhere.  Ugh.  After obsessing over it all day, I had no interest in anything else.  Finally I found manicotti pasta.


A mediocre substitute, but oh well.

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There were 14 shells in total, but the stuffing was only enough for 13, so now I have one random shell saved in the pantry for who knows when.

I used this recipe for tofu “ricotta” to which I added (thawed) frozen spinach, fresh basil, fresh parsley, and plain Greek yogurt.  Sorry for the lack of measurements.  I just did it until the texture was right.


Then I got to stuffing.

Now I know why my mom always assigned this task to me and my sisters.  It.  Is.  Tedious.

Ugh.  Kyle just stood there watching me, too.  It didn’t help that my stomach was growling the entire time.  And I was still gross from a 6 mile walk on the beach (don’t worry, I took a shower while the manicotti was in the oven).

[Note: it didn’t take that long to stuff, maybe 20 minutes, I’m just being dramatic because at the time my appetite was a hangry beast]


So once they were stuffed, I poured a little water over them, making sure to get the shells all wet.

This is how my mom told me to do it (since you can’t really precook manicotti because that would make them impossible to stuff).


See?  There was ~1 cm of water at the bottom.  The pasta soaks it up as it bakes.  But of course I still added the marinara on top.


1 whole jar, poured over the manicotti, spread to coat everything.


And into the oven it went.  For 40 minutes at 375 degrees.

While I showered, Kyle set the table.


Watch out – we are getting fancy up in here!




I started with three shells, but it was SOOOO good, I couldn’t possibly stop there.  I had 1 more.  And then another 1 more.

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I really wish I had doubled this because we were supposed to have leftovers for the work week.

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We had four leftover, which I tupperwared up before we could change our minds and have third helpings.  And then Kyle got out some bread and wiped the pyrex clean.


He wants a dog to clean up scraps, but I don’t think he realizes that it would be competition for him.

Here’s your shopping list for this dish:

  • 1 jar organic marinara sauce
  • 14 manicotti shells
  • 1 package extra firm tofu
  • tahini
  • nutritional yeast
  • organic spinach (fresh or frozen is fine)
  • basil
  • parsley
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • plain yogurt (I used Greek, but sub based on what your dietary preferences are)


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Comments (27)

  1. Katie

    Hah! A dog to clean up scraps…I love it. You DO need a German Shepherd.

  2. hippierunner

    Yummm. I have fresh basil just waiting to be used in some great dish and this looks perfect. Also, I love how it looks labor-intensive but isn’t really more than a few steps, right?

  3. Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy

    oh yum, love stuffed shells! thats one of the things i miss most, being GF.

  4. wendy

    this looks SO good i would eat it right now. i love the shell idea – and it looks like the filling was a hit!

  5. Ellie @ healthy belly ellie

    OOOH yummay! I haven’t had stuffed shells in ages!! Sounds great!!

  6. Wendy P

    So, the spell continues! I have shells in my pantry and all the fixins, so this will be in the oven tonight!

  7. Katie @ Peace Love & Oats

    oh my, that looks AMAZING!!! Haha I’m wishing I had some pasta right now!

  8. ethel

    E!!! I LOVE this!!! And they look so pretty too. Pretty shells all in a row. 😉

    so I have to ask, how was your tummy after all this pasta? I’m still not brave enough to have pasta in my life.

  9. Lisa

    Goodness gracious this looks incredible! I bet I would eat all the stuffing and marinara before I stuffed it into the noodles though. That part looks delicious enough to me!

  10. Christine (The Raw Project)

    Oh wow, I haven’t had stuffed shells in ages and this looks amazing!

  11. Alex

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  12. jessie

    okay i feel like a complete dummy!! i’ve only made manicotti a couple times, and each time i would cook the noodles before stuffing. Now I understand why it’s so hard to actually stuff them!!! whoops, 🙁 haha.

    yours look delicious thoughhh

  13. Emily

    This looks amazing! I can’t even remember the last time I had stuffed shells…and I don’t think I’ve ever actually made them myself. My mom always made them when I was growing up.

    Oh, and I wish I had someone to set the table and clean up for me! So jealous.

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  15. Elise (Post author)

    touch and go with pasta. this was okay since the dish was otherwise low fodmaps and the noodles are a smallish portion of the meal. it tasted so good. so so good.

  16. Elise (Post author)

    totally! its so simple.

    ps your posts as of late have been CRACKING me up.

  17. Elise (Post author)

    oh no! haha. thats something id do too though…try it this way, you may make it way more often now!

  18. Elise (Post author)

    thanks so much alex!! 🙂

  19. Elise (Post author)

    yeah…maybe if you didnt post adorable photos day in and day out…no i take that back, please dont stop. your blog is the first one i check every morning. baby a and punky make my day. you and meeker arent too bad to look at either 😉

  20. Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie

    Now I’m the one with the craving!!! I’m making this for dinner tonight AND the dessert squares for after. 🙂 Can’t wait.

  21. Dholteen

    I used this recipe for my non vegan friends and family at my engagement party, huge hit Elise thank you! I put the stuffing in a plastic bag and piped it into the manicotti shells, worked like a charm!

  22. Andrea

    Just a suggestion but have you tried putting the filling in a gallon freezer ziplock then snipping the corner and filling the manicotti that way? It’s saved me lots of time just make sure the hole is not too small!

  23. Jess

    love the picture of kyle orgasming as he licks the spoon. laughed so hard.


  24. Elise (Post author)

    why didnt i think of that!? duh. such a good idea. im usually too cheap to waste a baggy for things like that but the time saving alone will be worth it.

  25. Elise (Post author)

    thats such a good idea! ill definitely remember that for next time.

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