Oh man. This was good. We ate this like there was no tomorrow. I was lucky to have what you see in the photo for a leftover lunch the next day. It warmed up perfectly in the microwave, but straight out of the oven? Killer!
This meal was requested by my son, and I wanted to avoid all the cheese and calories and cholesterol, so I created this vegan version and he loved it. LOVED it.
Here’s what you need:
1 recipe of Cashew Ricotta (from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra)
½ C raw cashews
¼ C fresh lemon juice
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 pound firm tofu, drained and crumbled
1 ½ t dried basil
1 t salt
In a food processor or high speed blender, mix the cashews, juice, oil, and garlic until smooth. Add the tofu and continue blending until thick and creamy. Add basil and salt to taste.
2 large cups of fresh spinach
2 cloves garlic, minced
Manicotti pasta (I used 11 total tubes in this recipe)
1 jar marinara sauce
Dehydrated tomatoes (mine came from my garden. I reconstituted them in about 1 C boiling water. I then snipped them with kitchen scissors into bite-size pieces.)
Here’s what you do:
Make the cashew ricotta and set aside. Warm some olive oil in a saute pan and add the garlic, being sure not to brown it at all. Place the spinach in the warm oil, turn off heat, stir until it’s all coated with oil. It should cook down to a small amount.
Stir the spinach and ricotta together and spoon into a large plastic bag. Set aside.
Cook the manicotti for about 4-5 minutes in boiling water. Do not overcook them. Snip a tiny corner off the plastic bag and fill each manicotti tube with the spinach/ricotta mixture. Carefully place in a 9x13 or other size pan. (I had to use two pans to accommodate the entire recipe). Keep going until the kitchen is a total mess and all the filling is used up. Cover with some prepared marinara sauce. Scatter some reconstituted tomatoes over the top for a fantastic punch of flavor. I sprinkled the cashew Parmesan on the manicotti before I baked them….next time I might wait till it comes out of the oven.