Basil Pesto & Cashew Cream Stuffed Shells in Tomato Sauce


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Basil Pesto & Cashew Cream Stuffed Shells in Tomato Sauce



  • 1 pkg large pasta shells

Basil Pesto:

  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • ¼ cup pinenuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper
  • salt & black pepper (to taste)

Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion (chopped)
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 can (28oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • handful of chopped grape tomatoes (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Cashew Cream Sauce:

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 2 cups hot water (for soaking cashews)
  • 23 Tbsp of water (for steaming)
  • 57 handfuls of baby spinach until wilted
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice and
  • salt & pepper (to taste)


  1. Prepare pasta shells, al dente, in accordance with the package instructions.
  2. Soak cashews hot water. Allow to sit for ~3 hours.

Basil Pesto:

  1. Combine fresh basil, pinenuts, garlic cloves, olive oil, nutritional yeast, crushed red pepper and salt & black pepper in a food processor and pulse until well combined. Set aside.

Tomato Sauce:

  1. Heat a large skillet. Add 2 T. olive oil. Heat until shimmering. Add yellow onion and lower heat. Sauté until translucent.
  2. Add crushed garlic. Sauté a few minutes more.
  3. Add basil, oregano, thyme, crushed red pepper and tomato paste. Stir to combine and allow the cook for 3-5 minutes on low heat to caramelize the tomato paste.
  4. Add can of crushed tomatoes and brown sugar. Raise the heat slightly and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Optional: Add a handful of chopped grape tomatoes.
  5. When done, add 1 T. lemon juice and reduce the heat to keep warm. Season with salt & pepper.

Cashew Cream Sauce:

  1. In a large skillet, add 2-3 T. of water and steam the 5-7 handfuls of baby spinach until wilted. Drain off remaining moisture.
  2. Drain and rinse the cashews and combine with garlic clove, olive oil, ½ c. water, 1 T. nutritional yeast, 1 T. lemon juice and salt & pepper (to taste) in a blender and blend until a creamy sauce is created.
  3. Pour the cashew cream into the skillet with the spinach.
  4. Add the basil pesto and stir to combine. Warm the sauce on low heat. Stir frequently.

Putting It All Together:

  1. Add a spoonful of the cashew cream spinach sauce to each pasta shell.
  2. Gently place each shell into the tomato sauce.
  3. Top with fresh basil


Find more of Kate’s recipes on Herbivore’s Kitchen.



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