Manicotti is the one cheesy-filled treat I having been craving since becoming vegan. I actually had never even tasted manicotti until I was in Junior High. My best friend lived two houses down from me and her mom always made a point of inviting me over for dinner when she made manicotti since it was the only vegetarian dish she made. I still really appreciate that. I never made manicotti since I had hers and then I was suddenly craving it when I no longer ate ricotta cheese. However, this manicotti really hit the spot.
- Extra Firm Tofu
- Nutritional Yeast
- Oregano or Italian Seasoning
- Garlic Powder
- Baby Spinach
- Manicotti Shells
- Tomato Sauce
- Black Pepper
- Red Chili Powder
- Cumin Powder
- For Filling (Tofu Ricotta): Break apart one 15-oz block of tofu and place into a food processor. Add 1/3 c nutritional yeast, 2 Tbsp oregano, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp lemon juice. Puree together. Mix in 2 c chopped spinach. You can also mix in other finely chopped vegetables, but I like my manicotti pretty plain – besides, the tofu and spinach add plenty of protein.
- Cook Manicotti: Place shells into boiling water and boil for 4 minutes. Exactly 9 manicotti fit in one layer in my pot so they were fully immersed in water. Turns out, the filling is just enough for 9 manicotti shells!
- Make Sauce: Spoon 1 1/2 c tomato sauce into a bowl. Add 1/4 tsp black pepper, pinch salt, pinch red chili powder, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cumin powder. Spoon 3 Tbsp pasta water into the sauce and stir to mix.
- Brush oil onto a baking dish. Pour 1/4 c sauce to cover the bottom of the dish.
- Lightly brush manicotti shells with oil – this keeps them from sticking together and breaking apart.
- Heat oven to 375ºF
- Fill the manicotti shells with filling – I was easily able to spoon the filling into the shells using a teaspoon and each shell took about a minute to fill so no need to get fancy with piping the filling. Do not force the filling into the shells or overfill.
- Line up the manicotti shells into the baking dish in one layer.
- Pour sauce over the top to cover all shells on all sides. Spoon 1 Tbsp of pasta water to the dish – this allows the water to boil as the pasta cooks so the rest of the dish does not become to dry.
- Cover dish with foil. Bake for 15 minutes covered.
- Uncover. Sprinkle vegan mozzarella over tops of shells. Bake another 6 minutes, Broil for 2 minutes if cheese not completely melted or if you like a slightly crisp finish to your cheese topping.
TIPSI researched different vegan ricotta recipes and everyone consistently said not use to silken tofu, I presume it would make it too runny, so I did not even attempt to use it even though I had it on hand.
Consider adding pinch of salt at a time. Taste along the way. The beauty of vegan manicotti filling is that everything is edible raw. The garlic powder adds plenty of flavor that you may require less salt depending on the quality of your salt.