Vegan MoFo IV, Day #16, Week #3: Vegan Food You Can Feed to Non-Vegans Without Receiving Any Guff
Everybody loves them some baked up tasty Italian food, am I right? You betcha. Cannelloni are a nice fancy break away from standard lasagna and do a great job of showcasing the yummosity of their chosen filling. Fresh basil leaves really brighten up the flavour and can be grown indoors in cute-pie little containers all year long. Not dedicated to the game enough to grow your own window herbs? No worries (although we are all judging you right now): a little parsley, an extra squeeze or two of lemon or even a few shakes of Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce also work.
I know what you are thinking though: feed non-vegans tofu and chickpeas in a cheesy-type dish without cheese? You crazy fool! First of all, NEVER call me a fool. Secondly, the filling is so savoury good and umami and the whole dish is just plain tangy and saucy and satisfying. Those fools won’t even realise they are ingesting healthy vegan ingredients. (It’s ok to call THEM fools, don’t worry!)
- 1 package Canneloni tubes, whole wheat, if you can find them
- 1 cup chickpeas, cooked or canned
- 1 tbs wine or broth or even liquid from chickpeas
- 2 tbs lemon juice, fresh
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbs nutritional yeast flakes (optional, adds a cheesy flavour)
- 1 tsp Italian Seasoning (or 1/4 tsp each oregano, rosemary, basil and thyme), dried (or up it to 2 tbs for fresh)
- 1/4 tsp coarse black pepper
- 1/2 tsp sea salt, or 1 tbs white or shiro miso paste
- 1 package Lite Extra Firm Silken Tofu
- 2 cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped (or whole if using baby spinach, you cruel bastard)
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup shredded carrot, optional
- 1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
- 2 1/2 cups Your Favourite Pasta Sauce, preferably something sweet, like tomato basil or marinara
1. Cook the cannelloni according to package directions, making sure to leave it quite al dente, as there is nothing worse than fiddling with flacid pasta tubes. Nothing.*
2. Blend chickpeas, wine, lemon juice, garlic, herbs and salt in food processor or blender until very smooth.
3. Mash tofu in a medium mixing bowl until it resembles the consistency of ricotta. Stir in chickpea puree, nutritional yeast, spinach, basil, carrots (if using) and bread crumbs.
4. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spread one cup of sauce over the bottom of a 9″X16″ baking pan. Now it’s business time.
5. Say a dozen curse words and aim them in my direction, cuz filling cooked cannelloni shells ain’t that fun (see note “*” and stop cursing me). I use my icing piper thing-a-ma-giggy (I swear that’s what it said on the box) without a tip attached, but a large ziplock bag with the tip cut off would probably work even better because I had to refill my fancy apparatus ever couple tubes.
6. Lay filled tubes in saucy pan. Once all your tubes are stuffed, pour the rest of the sauce over filled cannelloni, cover and bake for 30 minutes. Serve with soy parm, crusty bread, a crunchy salad and a lot of love….ha! ha! ha! Just kidding: the food was very labour intensive, you’re fine with just the side dishes.
* I tried this recipe with oven-ready cannelloni tubes, which are infinitely easier to fill. The results? So creepy. The filling stayed the same firm…er… girth-y-ness throughout the baking process, but the pasta expanded as it cooked and got all loosey-goosey and saggy around the filling. Creep-city, we had to put loads of sauce (ah, man, the Decency Police better not be reading this post) to conceal their silly looks before we could eat them. So don’t be lazy people. Go for the traditional shells. Or you could just roll up the filling in cooked lasagna noodles, pinwheel style–that works too!