Stuffed shells are a favorite in my home! I mean who doesn’t love a good cheesy, baked, saucy pasta dish?! I make these so many different ways so I encourage you to have some fun with them! I had been craving some tikka masala so I made this quick version of a tikka masala cream sauce rather than a basic white sauce and it turned out amazing! I had SO many veggies in the fridge so instead of using chicken or ground turkey like I normally do in my stuffed shells, I packed the shells filled with zucchini, mushrooms, corn and peppers! You could seriously use any vegetable in this dish and it would taste great! I like to use mushrooms because they have a meatier texture that holds well in the shell, and zucchini for its juiciness! My husband is not a fan of mushrooms or zucchini, but he tore these shells UP! lol. I could imagine it to be a great way to sneak some veggies into your kids meals if they are picky eaters.
I made a big tray of these, served it with a side of garlic bread and had enough sauce left over so we all spooned it on top of the shells after they came out of the oven and used the bread to soak up the extra sauce! SO DELICIOUS!
These shells are also great option to take for a pot luck dinner as you can prep the entire tray ahead of time and then just pop it in the oven when you get to your destination! It is something the old and the young can both indulge in! I hope you enjoy this recipe and if you do make it, be sure to tag my instagram handle @thechutneylife.
Veggie Tikka Masala Stuffed Shells
Yield 4 Servings
For the vegetable filling:
1 cup yellow or white onions, diced
2 poblanos, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1/2 cup red bell peppers, chopped
3 cups chopped mushrooms (portabella or cremini)
1 cup corn
1 tbsp garlic, finely minced
2 tsp pav bhaji masala
2 tsp tandoori masala
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup shredded cheese such as monterey jack or mozzarella
salt to taste
1 box jumbo pasta shells, cooked al dente
For the Tikka Masala Sauce:
1 cup onion, diced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
2 star anise
3 black peppercorns
1 piece cinnamon
1 black cardamom
2 tsp coriander-cumin powder
2 tsp tandoori masala
3 tbsp butter
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
2 tsp garam masala powder
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated (can also use pecorino/fontina)
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream or half & Half
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
For the veggie filling:
- In a large pot or skillet heat 2 tbsp oil over medium high heat.
- Once the oil is hot, add the onion and cook until translucent. Add remaining vegetables, salt, and cook until the vegetables have softened, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add garlic, and dry seasonings to the vegetables and cook, stirring constantly until the raw smell of garlic has dissipated and all vegetables are fork tender (but not mushy- they will continue to cook once they are in the oven).
- Once the vegetables are cooked, add cilantro and shredded cheese and combine well.
- In a large pot, over medium high heat, add 2 tbsp oil. Once oil is hot add cumin, bay leaf, star anise, pepper corns, cinnamon, and black cardamom. Cook until bay leaf and whole spices are slightly browned and aromatic.
- Add chopped onions, continue to cook until translucent and slightly golden (about 10-15 minutes).
- Add tandoori masala, coriander-cumin powder and continue to stir. The mixture will begin to look clumpy, add a few splashes of water as needed to keep the mixture saucy and continue to stir and cook for about 5-7 minutes.
- Add tomato sauce, stir and cover with lid. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add chicken broth, heavy cream, garam masala, cilantro, and bring to a slow simmer.
- Remove from heat, add in grated parmesan.
- Spoon the vegetable mixture into each shell and arrange shells in single layer in shallow baking dish (Pour 1-2 ladles of sauce in bottom of baking dish first to prevent any sticking).
- Once all the shells are arranged, pour the remaining sauce over the shells, top off with additional shredded cheese and chopped cilantro and bake for 25-30 minutes until cheese has melted. To brown cheese, broil on high for 4-5 minutes.
- Serve hot !
Hi! I’m making this right now and it looks amazing! Just wondering- you have butter in the ingredients list but not in the instructions. When should we add it in?
Ah so sorry for the mistake in my recipe! I add the butter right after adding all the dry spices in the sauce! It helps to scrap up all the browned bits!
Do we leave the whole spices in there or take them out before adding the sauce?
you can take them out if you like! I usually just work around them and end up picking them out!
I don’t have tandoori Masala, what would you use as an alternate?
Hey, there isn’t really a substitute for that, it imparts a lot of flavor and color so definitely try it once you get some tandoori masala!
This was amazing! I hated stuffed shells growing up and this is the total opposite reaction I had while eating this today. Thank you for posting and creating this delicious recipe!
so great to hear!! thank you!!
Do the shells need to be cooked before going in the oven?
The shells should be cooked
Yummy!!! Thanks !
Hi there, this looks good!
Can we do without the Star anise and 1 black cardamom .. is it a must.. would this significantly change the taste ??
Hey! You can omit those and it won’t significantly affect the taste 🙂
Sooooo good! Made this for my entire family and everyone devoured it – lots of flavour!
Manpreet, so glad your family loved this recipe!! Its great for a crowd 🙂
This is a great recipe!
Can we replace the chicken broth? Can it be water or has to be veggie broth? Also if I want to do it with paneer, do you have any suggestions?
You can definitely use water, however the vegetable broth just adds another layer of flavor. You can add shredded paneer into the mix of the vegetables when sautéing! Many people have added paneer this way 🙂
How many days in advance can you make the sauce/mix? I plan to assemble and bake the day I’m serving it, but would love to prep most of it in advance if possible.
Hey the sauce will be fine two days ahead- same as the filling ! THen like you said, just assemble the day of!
Hello! Congratulations Palak on your handsome baby boy. I’ve made these stuffed shells a few times now without fail. I change up the vegetables depending on what I need to use up and it turns out perfect every time. This is one of our favorite fusion dishes in the Patel household thanks to you Palak!
Enjoyed this dish and will definitely be making it again! 😋