Said my husband as he ate his second serving of the homemade vegan manicotti I whipped up for dinner. It made me feel pretty good when I heard this compliment, considering I’m used to hearing “eeeewwww gross! What is this?” from my kids most nights out of the week. I don’t know if it’s in my DNA or just being from the south or if it’s that I just love to cook but I love cooking a good comfort meal at least one day a week and it’s usually on a Sunday. My comfort meals are a little different that the traditional southern cooks, though. I try to keep it plant based as much as possible in our house.
I also try to limit dairy. Why dairy? For several reasons:
Mainly because dairy is highly inflammatory to us and our bodies are not made to break it down.
I have witnessed the effects that dairy has on my own kids as well. My little girl’s recurrent ear infections, upper respiratory infections, and congestion literally went away after removing dairy from her diet. I’ve noticed that if too much dairy sneaks back in the diet then poof! here comes the congestion.
So back to the manicotti.
For pasta dishes like manicotti or lasagna, I have found that non gmo tofu is by far the best alternative to ricotta cheese. It creates the same texture and consistency of ricotta cheese and I promise no one will be able to tell the difference. For the sauce, I used a meat alternative called FieldRoast. I like this brand because it has just a few ingredientsand I know exactly what each ingredient is. My rule of thumb – if I’ve never heard of or can’t pronounce an ingredient or the list of ingredients is a mile long then it stays on the shelf. The FieldRoast Italian sausage is made from eggplant, fennel, and spices.
The biggest meat lover may be fooled by this dish. I hope you enjoy this recipe. Let me know what you think. Happy cooking!
1 box of manicotti shells
1 jar organic marinara sauce
2 garlic cloves chopped
Dashes of dried garlic powder, onion powder, basil, and pepper (sprinkle to your liking)
1 package organic non-gmo tofu
2 tbsp water
2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 package FieldRoast Italian sausage
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 egg or 3 tbsp flax/1 tbsp water if vegan
Optional: add 1 cup dairy free shredded mozzarella cheese if you’d like.
Boil manicotti shells until al dente. Let cool while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Mix tofu, water, egg or flax egg, spices, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice in a bowl. Finely chop garlic cloves and mix in. You want the mixture to resemble the texture of ricotta cheese. It should be somewhat smooth.
Heat stove top on medium heat. Cut off wrapping on sausage and place in skillet whole or crumble. I crumbled half and cooked the other half whole; after cooked, the part I didn’t crumble, I sliced in small discs. I wanted half of the sausage crumbled because I ended up mixing that into the tofu mixture then leaving the sliced pieces in the sauce. Totally up to you how you want to fix it. Pour marinara into the skillet and stir.
Place a little sauce in a baking dish (just enough to lightly cover the bottom). Stuff manicotti shells with dairy free cheese mixture. Place shells on top of sauce. Then pour remaining sauce over shells. Bake on 375 until warm and bubbly.