Spinach and Eggplant Manicotti with Tofu "Ricotta"

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Spinach and Eggplant Manicotti with Tofu

Lately I have been wanting to try to make different recipes, that would be enjoyed by a vegan or someone who wants to try something a little different. As an Italian I love using ricotta cheese, I wanted to find an alternate ingredient to use that could favor someone who is vegan or even dairy free.

I took a typical Italian dish and replaced the ricotta cheese with tofu. I served this during dinner one night and I didn't tell my family it was a tofu manicotti. No one knew! Give my Spinach and Eggplant Manicotti with Tofu "Ricotta" a try!Enjoy!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 or more teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pound box manicotti
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 cups marinara

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

  2. Take tofu out of package and set on a plate with 2 paper towels at the bottom and add about 4 paper towels on top then top with something heavy.  A pan is fine.  This will release all of the water.

  3. Slice the top off of your eggplant. Then, cut it in half lengthwise.  Drizzle with olive oil.

  4. Sprinkle each eggplant half generously with salt.  Let sit while oven preheats.

  5. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.  Place eggplant skin side down and bake for 40 minutes.

  6. Let cook for 10 minutes then remove inside and place in a colander for 15 minutes to release some of the liquid then place in a large bowl.

  7. Take thawed spinach and squeeze with a white paper towel until all of the water is released and add to the bowl along with basil, parsley and red pepper flakes.

  8. Boil water in a large pot and add about 2 tablespoons of sea salt.  Boil 3 minutes less than the package suggests. Drain and let cool.

  9. In a medium frying pan, sauté onion and garlic for about 1 minute.  Remove from heat and place in bowl with eggplant and spinach.

  10. In your food processor add your tofu (break up into pieces), cashews, and water then pulse until smooth.  Taste for any salt.  Add to the bowl with other ingredients and combine well.

  11. Using a 9/13 baking pan or lasagna pan add about 1/2 cup marinara sauce to the bottom. Stuff the manicotti and line in your baking dish.  Top with another 1/2 cup or more of marinara, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes then remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

  12. Enjoy with another topping of marinara!

     Note: You can use fresh spinach as well for this dish.  Just sauté with the onion and garlic for a few minutes until they wilt with a little olive oil and salt.

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