Vegan Pesto Stuffed Shells (with Split Peas!)

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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
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5 from 9 votes

Split Pea Pesto Stuffed Shells (Vegan)

A lighter Italian dish loaded with fiber and vegetarian protein, that is low in fat and sugar.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword dairy free, healthy, pesto
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6
Calories 82kcal


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

      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.

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      Laura ~ Raise Your Garden

      SO I just read the book “It Starts With An Egg” and marvel at the importance of avoiding sulfites. Scary stuff! I’m doing everything in my power to rid my body of chemicals and start fresh. I’ve been pretty good about avoiding oils and sugar and love how this recipe allows us to do that. The book also said that non-stick pans are really, really bad for you. Teflon in particular. Do you have any suggestions of what pans I should be using? I believe I would be able to make this in my Dutch Oven which is okay?

        Megan Gilmore

        Enameled dutch ovens and cast iron are my go-to pans for cooking! I wrote a post on my favorites a couple years ago:


          Speaking of cookware I was just wondering if ever got a new clay pot for your Vitaclay and if you still use it. I really want to get a slow cooker/crockpot and was interested in this since you first wrote about it but have read such horrible reviews about it. If not do you recommend your Instapot insead?

            Megan Gilmore

            No, I wasn’t able to replace the clay pot (not sure if they’re in stock at this point– we finally gave up). I do definitely recommend the Instant Pot– I use it several times each week and it’s held up great! I love the stainless steel insert and it’s got a larger capacity than the Vitaclay as well.


      Could red lentils be a substitute for the green split peas?

      P.S. I love your blog and recipes! You’re one of my main sources for vegan recipes.


      I just made this today and it was so good! Thanks for another great recipe! Keep the low-fat vegan recipes coming please.


      Made these for my husband and we LOVED them. They were delicious and filling. ThNk you for a great, unique recipe!


      I made these as roll-ups with brown rice lasagna noodles. They were great! The filling came out a bit watery for me, but some corn starch fixed it right up. Thank you for all that you do!


      i started making this and realized i only had “lightly dried basil”… so i threw some semi-dried basil in the processor with a little steamed cauliflower and added that to the peas. it came out really good. thanks!


      I used the basil in my garden to make several batches of the pesto in the fall and put them in the freezer. We finally got around to trying it out today and it was fantastic! Because the filling was made previously this meal came together really quickly. Definitely going to make more of this as soon as the garden comes in!


      How much pesto should I use if I want to make this with jarred pesto? I have a newborn so I’d like to make this as easy and fast as possible.

      Alexandra colacito

      These were delicious. I wasn’t sure about a split pea pesto but it totally worked. Protein rich and tasty. I did sprinkle non dairy parmesan on top to make it all more decadent 🙂


      Added some crumbled medium tofu as “ricotta cheese” to the stuffing and topping and my in laws had no idea. This is my fave recipe on the site


        I’m totally gonna steal your tofu idea!


      I made this last night and it was very tasty and delicious!! Thank you for sharing this his recipe


      Only as far as the pesto & had to comment. So fresh, flavorful and yum!


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

      Charity Taylor

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


      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.

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