Top manicotti with fresh parsley and chopped raw walnuts.
An 11 X 7 inch casserole dish holds 8 manicotti.
Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, lactose intolerant or a meat eater, this light and healthy manicotti will satisfy you and your guests. This dish uses tofu in place of ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. That may sound like a tall order to replace, but you’ll be surprised how rich and creamy this recipe tastes. And, it has no cholesterol and is significantly lower in saturated fat. The walnut topping, together with the soy protein in the tofu, makes this a heart healthy choice. It’s also low in calories and would fit nicely into a weight loss regimen.
I noticed a new product when I went tofu shopping for this dish (at least it was new to me). It’s called SprouTofu by Wildwood Organics, made from “sprouted” soybeans. In several of my “raw food” posts, I pointed out the many benefits of sprouting. These sprouted soybeans will make the tofu higher in nutrients, lower in phytates, more alkaline and easier to digest. Tofu is high in calcium, protein and iron – all very important in the vegan diet. If you can’t find sprouted tofu, just make sure the tofu you pick is organic and non-GMO.
The nutritional yeast in the recipe adds many important vitamins and minerals, especially B vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B12 and folic acid. Serve this with a green salad, a loaf of crusty whole grain bread, and a nice bottle of Sonoma Pinot Noir.
Vegan Manicotti with Sprouted Tofu and Tomato Basil Sauce [serves 4]
14 ounces of firm organic, sprouted tofu (or regular tofu)
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 ½ teaspoons Ener G egg replacer
1 teaspoon Himalayan or sea salt
1/2 cup parsley, chopped, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
8 manicotti shells
1 15 ounce can of organic, diced tomatoes
1/4 cup packed fresh basil
2 tablespoons raw walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and take out an 11 x 7 inch baking dish. Put the cloves of garlic through the chute of a food processor and process until they are minced. Squeeze some of the moisture out of the tofu. Break the tofu up in large pieces and add them to the food processor along with the nutritional yeast, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, egg replacer, and salt. Process until smooth. Add ½ cup of the chopped parsley and pulse a few times until it is mixed in and set aside. In a blender, pulse the diced tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the basil a few times until the basil is mixed in and the tomatoes are chopped. Pour about one third of the mixture in an 11 X 7 inch casserole dish and spread it over the bottom. To make them easier to fill, cook the manicotti shells a few minutes less than the directions state (Ronzoni calls for 7 minutes and we cooked it for 5). Gently remove the manicotti from the cooking water and rinse under cold water. Fill the manicotti with the tofu/parsley mixture and place them over the tomato sauce in the casserole dish. When all 8 filled manicotti shells are in the casserole dish, spoon the rest of the sauce across the middle of the manicotti leaving the tops and bottoms uncovered (see picture). Cover the casserole dish tightly with aluminum foil and put in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and with a long, firm spatula, transfer 2 manicotti in each of 4 plates. Top with the rest of the chopped parsley and the chopped walnuts and serve immediately. Serve with a small bowl of nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan (optional).
Per serving: 330 calories, 15 g fat, 1.9 g saturated fat, 0 g cholesterol, 17.2 g protein, 34.5 g carbohydrate and 5.7 g of fiber.