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These vegan stuffed shells are the perfect comfort food to help you transition into Fall weather.

plate of split pea pesto stuffed shells

Benefits of Green Split Peas

This pesto is made with fiber-rich green split peas, which are ultra-filling, but won’t leave you feeling like you need to take a nap shortly after eating.

Like most pulses, including beans, lentils, and chickpeas, green split peas pack a hefty serving of protein in each serving. (16 grams per cooked cup!) They also contain a trace mineral called molybdenum, which is thought to help detoxify the body from sulfites– a common preservative.

They are the perfect addition to this lighter Italian dish, which also happens to be free of added oil and sugar.

bag of split peas

What I love about making pesto is that it’s easy to adjust as you go. I’m obsessed with garlic, and could probably overdo it for some of my dinner guests, but if it’s not your thing, you can simply use less or omit it all together.

I’d say one of the biggest life-lessons I can pass on, at least when it comes to cooking, is to taste your food as you prepare it, so it always turns out perfectly for YOUR taste buds. Every recipe is adaptable!

making split pea pesto in a food processor

Gluten-Free Pasta Shell Options

Stuffing this hearty pesto into jumbo pasta shells makes for a very impressive-looking presentation for dinner guests, and you can easily keep this dish gluten-free by using a brown rice pasta shell.

However, if you’d prefer to skip the pasta all together, try stuffing this pesto in endive leaves, spooning it into zucchini halves that have had the seeds scooped out, or rolling it up in a thinly sliced vegetable, such as eggplant.

The options are endless, and all would make a delicious baked option. I hope you enjoy it!

pouring marinara over split pea pesto stuffed shells

Split pea pesto stuffed shells

Split Pea Pesto Stuffed Shells (Vegan)

5 from 10 votes
A lighter Italian dish loaded with fiber and vegetarian protein, that is low in fat and sugar.
prep30 mins cook30 mins total1 hr


Split Pea Pesto:

  • 1 cup dry green split peas
  • 2 1/4 cups water , divided
  • 1/4 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic , minced (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

12 ounces jumbo pasta shells

    Marinara sauce, for serving


      • Combine the split peas and 2 cups of the water in a small saucepan over high heat, and bring them to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and cover to let the peas simmer until tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Drain and rinse the cooked peas and transfer them to the bowl of a large food processor.
      • Use the same pot to cook your jumbo shells according to the directions on the package. (I like to do this while making the pesto, so that everything is ready at about the same time.) Preheat the oven to 350ºF and spread a bit of the marinara sauce at the bottom of a 9"x 13" glass baking dish. Set it aside.
      • To prepare the pesto, add the remaining 1/4 cup of water, fresh basil, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 clove of garlic, and the salt to the food processor, and process it together with the cooked split peas. Taste the mixture and add more lemon juice or garlic if desired.
      • Once the shells are tender, drain them and fill each shell with a large spoonful of the pesto. Arrange the stuffed shells into a single layer in the prepared baking dish and spoon additional marinara sauce over the top of each shell. Bake until everything is heated through, about 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm, garnished with fresh basil.


      Calories: 82kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 6g | Sodium: 377mg | Potassium: 7mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 300IU | Vitamin C: 2.5mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 1.8mg
      Course: Main Course
      Cuisine: Italian
      Keyword: dairy free, healthy, pesto

      If you try this recipe, please leave a comment below letting me know how you like it! And if you make any modifications, I’d love to hear about those, too. We can all benefit from your experience.

      Reader Feedback: What’s your favorite comforting dish as we transition into Fall weather? 

      Disclosure: This post was originally sponsored by USA Pulses and Pulse Canada in 2016, but has since been updated.

      Megan Gilmore leaning on her white countertop.

      Megan Gilmore

      Hi, I’m Megan. A former fast food junkie turned best-selling cookbook author. I create healthy recipes made with simple ingredients to make your life easier.

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      1. Wow, this is such a delicious dish. And it reheats really well. I make it for dinner and take it to work for lunch the following day. I love that it provides protein and it is very filling. I usually eat about 3 jumbo shells for each meal. It’s delicious, filling, and healthy. And as I said it reheats wells too.

      2. So good! I always have leftover shells afterwards so maybe increasing the recipe to 1.5x the amount will be better. This last time I made it I only had 1/4 cup of peas left so I used red and brown lentils for the remainder and it worked out just fine.

      3. I added a little more garlic, black garlic, onion powder, umami seasoning, and black pepper. We loved them!

      4. Pesto stuffed shells vegan style is incredibly tasty. Probably would work well with manicotti shells too.