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Unstuffed Spicy Tomato Basil Shells

Unstuffed Spicy Tomato Basil Shells

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  • Author: Monkey and Me Kitchen Adventures
  • Prep Time: 20 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 Minutes
  • Total Time: 45 Minutes (+Rest Time)
  • Yield: 4-5 Servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegan


Healthy, rich, and herbaceous, this oil-free Unstuffed Spicy Tomato Basil Shells dish is total pasta heaven.



Skillet Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yellow onion, fine dice
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms (optional) *
  • 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 – [ 8 oz. can ] tomato sauce
  • 1 – [ 14 oz. can ] petite diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup low-sodium vegetable broth *
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup + 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon reduced sodium tamari *
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda *

Spice/Herb Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 Tablespoons dried minced onions
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried crushed thyme leaves *
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt *
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch to ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Other Ingredients:

  • 1 – [ 14 oz. can ] brown lentils, drained and rinsed *
  • 8 to 12 oz. jumbo pasta shells (or pasta of choice) *
  • ¼ cup (2/3 oz.) fresh basil, chopped

Optional Toppings:


  1. Fill a large stock pot full of water. Add some sea salt to the water. Bring the water to a boil then add the pasta. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Check package directions on cooking times and/or boil the pasta until al dente, drain, rinse with cold water to remove any excess starch, shake well, set aside.
  2. Place the Spice/Herb Ingredients into a small bowl, mix well, set aside.
  3. In a large ceramic/enamel lined skillet (or similarly large nonstick skillet) add the finely diced onions, sauté over medium-high heat for 7 to 10 minutes until tender. Add a splash of water or vegetable broth to prevent overbrowning or burning.
  4. If adding mushrooms, add now with a splash of water, sauté for several minutes.
  5. Add the minced garlic and tomato paste, sauté for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  6. Then add all the remaining Skillet Ingredients except the baking soda, stir well to combine.
  7. Add the Spice/Herb Mix, stir well. Bring to a boil, then immediately lower to a simmer. Add the baking soda, stir to combine. Continue to simmer for 7 minutes.
  8. After 7 minutes, add the lentils, cooked pasta and freshly chopped basil. Stir to combine. Simmer for several minutes, then remove from the stove and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  9. Serve topped with freshly chopped parsley and/or Vegan Parmesan Cheese.


*Please reference the blog post for Tips for Success, Pantry Items Used, Storage and Freezing, and Kitchen Products Used.

*Sea Salt:  Please adjust the sea salt based upon your family’s sea salt preferences and/or based upon dietary needs.

*Serving:  4 to 5