Italian and Vegan – Yeah, We Blend…Tofu Manicotti w/ Tomato-Basil Sauce

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There seems to be a WHOLE foods and plant-based movement sitting up and taking notice in the world… I decided to join in on the fun and came up with this old favorite.  I first made this dish when I was about 10 or 11 and still getting my cooking chops in gear.  It was my FIRST recipe with tofu.  This was before tofu was cool.  I remember it confused me to no end how this white blob was going to taste like ricotta cheese.  And then, I served it.  Heaven.  Today, I put it into use as hubs and I have been following a lower sodium diet and trying for a meatless dish when we can.  I used a non-dairy, non-soy cheese (Daiya) so this is vegetarian-friendly.

  • 1 pound manicotti
  • 2 pounds firm or soft tofu, patted dry and mashed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp fresh minced parsley
  • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach (optional)
  • 4 cups spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup of Daiya cheese (you must try this – it is GOOD!)

Preparation:

Prepare the manicotti according to package directions. Gently drain and rinse the noodles.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the mashed tofu, garlic, soy milk, olive oil, lemon juice, sugar, salt, pepper, parsley and spinach.

Line a 9×13 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 sauce over the stuffed noodles. Add the cheese if you have it or want it. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes or until the sauce bubbles.  

**I usually check it at 25 minutes, uncover and broil some garlic toast and melt that “cheese” down.  YUM!

I am an Italian. So when I make sauce, I am happy to pull the weathered, spattered old recipe card from my file and make my Grandfather and Grandmother’s REAL gravy (you may call it sauce) recipe.  And that is awesome, but working and commuting can cut into prep time and cooking.  Since I don’t have two days to simmer on the back of the stove, I turn to easy recipes AND so I don’t have to (shudder) use canned or jar sauce.  I found this one over the summer.  It works and makes me happy I “did good” by homemade.

Simple, Fast, Easy, Tomato Basil Sauce – by Kate from Scratch

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 3 Cloves Garlic or roasted garlic , grated or minced
  • 1/2 tsp.  Crushed Red Pepper (*Optionally More, To Taste)
  •  28-Ounce Can Roma Style Tomatoes
  • 6 Ounces  (1 can) Tomato Paste
  • Kosher or Sea Salt 1 tbs.  (*Optionally More, To taste)
  • 1/4 tsp.  Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Cup, Packed Basil Leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated,  parmesan (optional)
  • Ground Black Pepper* (optional)

1.  Place large pot over medium heat.

2.  Add olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Stir and let cook until you can smell the garlic.

3.  Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir & bring to light simmer.  Add Balsamic vinegar.

4.  Add Salt.  Taste.  Add more salt  if needed.  Taste.  Repeat salt, if necessary.

5.  Add basil.  Simmer for about 2 minutes more.   Stir.  Turn off of heat.

Bring to room temp.  Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to a month.

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