Can a food that is as comforting as stuffed shells actually be turned into something nutritious?
The old me would have said no way. Not a chance. The new me? I jump at theÂ opportunity to prove the old me wrong.
So thatâs what we have today. Healthy stuffed shells without ANY of the usual suspectsâ¦including the shells. Instead itâsÂ quinoa stuffed mushrooms filled with a dreamyÂ cashew + spinach ricotta, covered in a thickÂ red sauce. Reminiscent of a childhood favorite, reimagined with the health benefits in mind.
Now Iâm not going to sugar-coat anything and tell you that these stuffed mushrooms arenât high in calories, because they kind of are. Anything with a nut-base is going to be on the higher end when it comes to calories (and fat for that matter).
But from the way I look at it, your body is going to feel so much better if you eat a mushroom filled with cashew ricotta and quinoa than itÂ would with a meal made up of a refined-carbohydrate based pasta (the shell) and ultra-pasteurized cowâs milk (the cheese). Even if there is a glimpse of something green in there (the spinach), all that other junk is negating any benefits you would see from it.
Rather than something filling and nourishing, itâs basically a big plate of sugar with a teeny tiny side of greens.
Okay, okay. I might be acting a little dramatic, but I really want to emphasize that eating a meal with lots of nuts is NOT going to make you fat. The healthy fats in nuts are actually really good for you â your body needs fat to properly function, and more specifically yourÂ brain needs fat to properly function.
So nuts = good.
Cashews turned into ricotta = even better.
Can we all just take a moment and agree that the picture above really does look like a ricotta-spinach filling? Itâs amazing how after all this time of cooking with clean ingredients, my mind still plays tricks on me.
This recipe really couldnât be easier to make. As weâve established, the âcheeseâ is a base of cashews with some nutritional yeast, lemon juice and a few other ingredients to give it a cheese-like flavor. Then mix that all up with someÂ fresh,Â sautÃ©ed spinach, cooked quinoa and a few spices, and youâve got the dreamiest vegan cheesy filling on your hands
Once I had my filling made, I was contemplating regular old shells, but decided on mushrooms because a) I thought they would provide a flavor base, b) I knew they would soak up the flavors of the cheese way more and c) we just didnât need all those extra calories from the pasta. This meal was already going to be satisfying, we mind as well get the most bang for our buck and add as many veggies in there as possible!
So if you have an Italian comfort food lover in your house, but you want something nutritious and delicious to serve, these quinoa stuffed shells need to go on the menu. I served mine with some pesto zucchini noodles and as a meal that I figured Matt would most certainly despise, his plate was cleared without any complaint. He gobbled it up and said he loved it. If we can convince him, I know you and your family will love it too.
Whatâs your go-to comfort food that you would like to see be remade in a healthy way? This is the kind of recipe that I have the most fun with and so Iâm always looking for new ideas! And if you end up making this recipe (or any of the others on this site), donât forget to use #simplyquinoa when you upload a picture. I love to see your creations!
Vegan Ricotta + Quinoa Stuffed Mushrooms
4 hours 30 mins
5 hours 5 mins
Author: Alyssa Rimmer
Serves: 6 servings
- for the cashew ricotta:
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked at least 4 hours
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 6 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon miso paste
- 1 teaspoon wheat free tamari
- 2 teaspoons ground basil
- 2 teaspoons ground oregano
- 1 - 2 tablespoons water (if needed)
- for the stuffed mushrooms:
- 5 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
- Cashew ricotta
- Â½ cup cooked quinoa
- 6 portobello mushroom caps
- 1 jar tomato sauce
- Nutritional yeast/cashew crumbles for topping
- Fresh basil (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350ÂºF.
- In a high powered blender (or food processor), blend the ricotta ingredients until smooth and creamy. It should resemble a soft ricotta. Transfer ricotta to a bowl and set aside.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add spinach and cook until just wilted (either use a little water or oil to help it along if needed). Remove from heat and press any liquid out of the spinach that might have collected in the pan.
- Add spinach and quinoa to the bowl with the ricotta and stir together until combined.
- Remove the stems and scrape the gills out of the mushroom caps. Line a baking pan with half of the sauce then arrange mushrooms in the pan. Evenly divide the ricotta spinach mixture between the mushroom caps. Top each with sauce and bake for 30 - 35 minutes until mushrooms are tender.
- Let sit for 5 minutes then transfer to serving plates and garnish with nutritional yeast and basil (if using).
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