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Spinach & Tofu cannelloni & dreamy garlic baguette


Spinach & Tofu cannelloni & dreamy garlic baguette

As someone that is plant-based it’s hard to find ready-made cannelloni and so I haven’t had this dish for years until I decided to make it myself! This is a labour of love with many store cupboard/fridge ingredients, but it is worth the effort!


My husband usually hates tofu scramble but this tofu scramble is disguised to be more like a creamy ricotta which tastes meaty and very hearty and is pure comfort food. No-one will realise it’s tofu!


The trick is to not press the water out and grate it with the finest grater you have (Ok so not a micro-plane but the fine grater on a normal grater!)


I have made this recipe both for people that are onion and garlic free and for people that do consume onion and garlic and both versions are very tasty. For onion and garlic free, use 2 stalks of celery instead of onion and cook that off like the onion. Instead of using garlic powder, use 1/8 teaspoon asafoetida (hing) which is a very pungent spice so don’t be tempted to add more. It can be used instead of the garlic in the garlic bread and parmesan too.


This recipe will make two trays worth. Each tray feeds 3-4 people depending on appetites so you may wish to half the recipe if not batch cooking or entertaining. However, I like to freeze the mixture and extra sauce for a rainy day!


Unfortunately, I cannot find a wholewheat cannelloni but if this is something you are worried about you can get wholewheat lasagna or lentil lasagna sheets and dunk them in boiling water to make them malleable and roll them to resemble cannelloni. They may need slightly longer to cook so test the consistency of the pasta with a knife to see if it’s done.


Be careful to add salt at the end if needed and bear in mind all the different components that may have salt in them.


Ingredients


Cannelloni

  • 1 large onion diced

  • ½ cup stock

  • 1 courgette diced into 1cm pieces.

  • 1 bell pepper diced

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • 3 tsp smoked paprika

  • ½ cup plant milk (I used unsweetened soya milk)

  • 6 tbsps. nutritional yeast

  • 2 tsp oregano

  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

  • 1 tbsp. tamari or low sodium soya sauce

  • 1 280-gram block of firm tofu finely grated (I used Tofoo brand)

  • 1/8 tsp grated nutmeg

  • 1 tbsp marmite/yeast extract

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • Salt, chilli flakes and pepper to taste

  • 2 x 250 grams packs of cannelloni

  • 250g fresh spinach cut finely


Tomato sauce

  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes (try and use organic or the “ best” so that the tomatoes aren’t sour)

  • 1 tbsp tomato paste

  • Pinch of stevia or half a teaspoon maple syrup

  • 1 cup veg stock

  • 4 tsp oregano

  • 4 small garlic cloves crushed

  • Salt, chilli flakes and pepper to taste


Parmesan

  • 6 tbsp cashews

  • 6 tbsp nutritional yeast

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • 1 tsp salt or omit if salt free.


Optional topping

  • Black pitted olives cut in half lengthways.

  • Dried oregano


Garlic bread

  • 1 bake at home wholemeal baguette (I used one from Tesco)

  • 2 tbsps. vegan cream cheese- I used Nush cream cheese which is the more whole food version I could find. If you can’t find it use a plant-based butter/extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 cloves garlic crushed

  • 1 tsp oregano

  • Salt and pepper to taste


Method

  • Preheat oven to 200C

  • Heat a large casserole dish on the stove on medium heat and once hot add the diced onions and cook until soft (add small amounts of veg stock to prevent sticking)

  • Once the onion is soft add the courgette and cook until “ al dente”, roughly 5 mins

  • Add the tofu, plant milk, rest of the vegetable stock and rest of the cannelloni ingredients apart from the spinach and the cannelloni shells.

  • Mix all of these ingredients and cook for approximately 5 mins until the red pepper is cooked through and there should be some water to resemble a thick sauce left (If there isn’t add a bit more water and if it’s too watery cook for a bit longer)

  • Add the spinach and cook until the spinach wilts- approximately 2 minutes.

  • In another saucepan add all the tomato sauce ingredients and cook on medium flame covered for 15-20 minutes until the chopped tomatoes have broken down and the sauce thickens. Adjust seasoning to taste.

  • In a food processor, add all the parmesan ingredients and pulse until the mixture resemble a fine powder (you will not need all of this but you can keep the parmesan for weeks in a dry cupboard and sprinkle over pasta dishes or bakes!)

  • In 2 medium lasagna dishes, cover the bottom with a thin layer of tomato sauce.

  • Fill your cannelloni tubes with the cannelloni “cheese mixture” by covering one end of the tube with your fingers and adding the mixture to the open end using a small spoon. Assemble each filed cannelloni tube in the trays until you have used up all the space in the trays. (It doesn’t matter if the last of the tubes aren’t symmetrically placed if there is a lack of space in the trays.)

  • Pour half of the tomato mixture in each lasagna dish, covering the cannelloni and spread this evenly with a spatula- try not to leave any bit of the cannelloni uncovered with tomato sauce.

  • Top the dishes evenly with vegan parmesan and the optional toppings if you like.

  • Cover the lasagna dishes with baking paper and then foil and cook in the oven for 20 minutes.

  • Uncover the lasagna dishes after 20 minutes and put back in the oven again for a further 5 minutes. When the cannelloni is done it should be al dente but if you would like to cook it softer, cover with foil and put back in the oven for a few minutes).

  • Whilst the cannelloni is cooking bake the baguette in the oven according to packet instructions- I cooked mine for 10 minutes.

  • Once out of the oven and cooled down slightly, make some evenly placed slits in the baguette (about 2 inches apart) but not fully slicing through the baguette (Like you see the tear and share garlic breads in the supermarkets).

  • Heat the garlic “butter” ingredients which include the cream cheese, salt, pepper, oregano and garlic in a small microwave safe bowl for 20 seconds on full power in the microwave until the cream cheese softens.

  • Mix the garlic butter ingredients thoroughly and spoon in the mixture into the slits in the baguette.

  • After the cannelloni is taken out to serve, heat the baguette in the same temperature oven (200C) for 2 minutes until the top has slightly browned and the bread is warm.

  • Enjoy your cannelloni and garlic bread with a light salad!



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