Beet Marinara Stuffed Shells


Beet Marinara Stuffed Shells

HEADS UP: This recipe contains a cashew based ricotta filling, so get your cashews soaking in water sooner than later!

Beet Marinara:

1 large sweet onion, diced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup tomato paste

4 cloves smashed garlic

1/2 tsp salt, or more if needed

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 cups beet juice

1 28 oz Cento San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes, broken with your fingers

4 sprigs fresh basil

2 beets, roasted 

1.) First, wash and cut ends off of beets and wrap individually in foil. Place in a baking dish with about 1.5 inches of water. Cook at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until beets are tender when a fork or knife is stuck in center. 

2.) Unwrap baked beets and quarter them. Place in food processor and pulse until they’re finely ground. Set aside. 

3.) Using a large saucepan, cook olive oil on medium heat for two minutes. Place diced onions in pan with salt and pepper, using a wooden spoon to stir and coat onions in the olive oil. Cook for 7-8 minutes, or until the onions look translucent. 

4.) Add the smashed garlic to the onions, and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the garlic is very fragrant. 

5.) Add the tomato paste to the onions and garlic, pressing down onto the pan. Cook for two minutes or until the red color changes to an orange-red and has melted down into the veggies. 

6.) Add the beet juice, whole peeled tomatoes (and every last bit of the tomato juice that’s left in the can!), and fresh basil to the onions and garlic. Break the tomatoes down with your fingers as you add them. Cook for twenty minutes on medium heat. 

7.) Add the ground beets to the marinara and cook on low for five minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Ricotta Filling 

2 3/4 cups raw cashews or raw cashew pieces, soaked in water overnight then drained 

1/4 cup water, or more if needed 

2 cloves crushed garlic

4 basil leaves, chopped

1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt, or more if needed

3 tbsp-1/4 lemon juice, more of less if needed

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1.) Using a food processor, process the cashews, 1/4 cup water, lemon juice, and salt for about five minutes or until mixture is light and ricotta-like. Taste test and add more salt, water, and lemon juice if needed. Depending on how long cashews were soaked in water prior, they made need more water to break down nicely. 

2.) Transfer ricotta to a large bowl and stir in the crushed garlic, chopped basil and parsley, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. 

3.) Transfer ricotta filling to a pastry bag (or a freezer bag with end cut off). Refill pastry bag as needed. 

Pasta Shells:

About 16-20 jumbo pasta shells, or about 2 cups uncooked

1.) Bring a large pot of salted water (add about 2 tsp salt to water) to a boil. Drizzle in 1 tbsp olive oil and the pasta shells. Cook for about 8 minutes, just until al dente. The shells will cook more in the oven, so don’t worry about cooking them completely. Drain and cool by rinsing with cold water. Toss in olive oil and set aside. 


1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x13 baking pan with 1 cup Beet Marinara sauce evenly. 

2.) Line baking pan as evenly as possibly with pasta shells. 

3.) Using a pastry bag, pipe ricotta filling into each shell, filling each one completely. 

4.) Ladle remaining Beet Marinara over the stuffed shells. Make sure to cover the edges  of the shells to avoid crunchy spots on pasta. 

5.) If there’s remaining ricotta filling left, dot the marinara with ricotta.  Sprinkle on the topping:


3 tbsp bread crumbs

2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

red pepper flakes, to taste

salt, to taste

6.) Cover baking pan with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes until marinara is bubbling. Remove foil and bake for five more minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for thirty minutes before serving. 

Clara PolitoComment