|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
There are so many Italian recipes that include cheese, especially those that are baked stuffed noodles. This makes it challenging for a vegan to enjoy these types of traditional dishes as most include ricotta cheese. Luckily, this recipe for manicotti uses tofu in place of the ricotta cheese, ideal since both ricotta and tofu are very mild in flavor, creating a similar texture and taste.
The tofu "cheese" filling includes garlic, soy milk, olive oil, lemon juice, and parsley, making a fresh tasting filling that no one may suspect is vegan.
- 1 pound manicotti
- 2 pounds firm or soft tofu (patted dry and mashed)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1/2 cup soy milk
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
- Optional: 1 cup chopped fresh spinach
- 4 cups spaghetti sauce
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Prepare the manicotti according to package directions. Drain and rinse the noodles; gently pat dry.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the mashed tofu, garlic, soy milk, olive oil, lemon juice, sugar, salt, pepper, parsley, and spinach, if using.
Spread a 9x13-inch baking pan with 2 cups of the spaghetti sauce. Gently spoon the tofu mixture into each manicotti until they are all full. Place the filled manicotti noodles in one layer on top of the spaghetti sauce.
Pour the remaining 2 cups spaghetti sauce over the stuffed noodles. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes, or until the sauce bubbles.
Reprinted with permission from The Compassionate Cook Cookbook.
Tips and Variations
If you would like a bit more flavor in your manicotti filling, try this vegan ricotta cheese substitute which is similar to the filling in this recipe but with a few more ingredients. Whether you are making stuffed shells or lasagna (such as a low-fat vegan eggplant lasagna), the vegan ricotta substitute is great to have on hand in the fridge.
Although manicotti is traditionally a dish made just with noodles, cheese, and sauce, it is also a great vehicle for holding plenty of healthy vegetables. To add more nutrition and heft to this dish, fold some roasted vegetables into the tofu filling before stuffing the pasta tubes. Perfect if you have leftover roasted vegetables, but if you don't, try eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, and bell peppers.
If you would like to make this vegan manicotti ahead of time, you can prepare it the night before and place in the refrigerator until ready to bake. It can also be frozen; just keep in mind the tofu may change its texture a little bit as it can get chewier when cooked after being frozen.