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Vegan Baked Manicotti with Kale and Red Wine Tomato Sauce

Vegan Baked Manicotti

Vegan Baked Manicotti with Kale and Red Wine Tomato Sauce

I’m not one of those people who won’t turn on the oven all summer long. It could be sweltering at over a hundred degrees, but if I want cookies, I will make some cookies. However, that doesn’t stop me from getting super excited about the first chilly day of fall and using it as an excuse to pop something tasty in the oven. If summer baking is tolerable, fall and winter baking is magical, if for nothing else but the aromas that swirl through the house.

Garlicky Italian food is among my favorite aromas to fill the house with on a cool day, and while I generally think of tomatoey pasta dishes as being a summer thing, they instantly become cool weather food when you load them up with cheese and bake them.

I went a few extra steps with this vegan manicotti to make it fall appropriate, adding some hearty sautéed kale to my vegan ricotta mixture and spiking the sauce with some red wine to give it an extra rich flavor.

Vegan Baked Manicotti with Kale and Red Wine Tomato Sauce

If you have any doubts about vegan ricotta being less indulgent and comfort-food worthy, fear not. Raw cashews blend up to create an incredibly creamy and deceptively cheesy base, while tofu adds just the right texture to mimic dairy-base ricotta. When you first blend this stuff up, you probably won’t be able to tell it’s vegan, and you might just have to stop yourself from polishing it all off with a spoon. Once it’s stuffed into manicotti shells and smothered in tomato sauce, you’ll be glad you held back.

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Vegan Baked Manicotti with Kale and Red Wine Tomato Sauce

Vegan Baked Manicotti

Creamy cashew-based ricotta and garlicky sautéed kale is stuffed into pasta tubes, drenched in spicy tomato sauce and baked up to perfection to make this scrumptious veganized baked manicotti.

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces dried manicotti shells (about 14 shells)

For the Tomato Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional, or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For the Vegan Ricotta and Kale Filling

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups stemmed and finely chopped lacinato kale (about 1 small bunch)
  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water 4-8 hours, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup unflavored soy or almond milk
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 pound firm or extra-firm tofu

For Serving

  • Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Instructions

Cook the Manicotti Shells:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the manicotti shells and cook according to package directions. Drain the shells and return them to the pot, tossing with a few dashes of olive oil to keep them from sticking together.

Make the Tomato Sauce:

  1. Coat the bottom of a large saucepan with olive oil and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Add wine and bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced by half, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, sugar, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir a few times to incorporate. Bring to a simmer and lower heat. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes, until thickened slightly.

Make the Vegan Ricotta and Kale Filling:

  1. While the sauce simmers, coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil and place it over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Add kale and continue to sauté until fully wilted, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. Place the cashews, milk, lemon juice and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S-blade. Blend until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the tofu and pulse a few times until a chunky, ricotta-like texture is achieved.
  3. If you have room in your food processor bowl, add the kale mixture and pulse just until blended. Otherwise, you can transfer the ricotta mixture to the skillet to mix (if the skillet is cool), or transfer both to a mixing bowl, and mix with a large spoon or spatula.

Make the Baked Manicotti:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Pour half of the tomato sauce into the bottom of a large baking dish, or divide it among two smaller baking dishes.
  2. Using a pastry bag (or a zipper bag with a corner snipped off), pipe the ricotta mixture into manicotti shells. Arrange the filled shells in the baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the shells and cover with foil. Bake until the sauce is bubbly, 20-25 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving; garnish with fresh parsley, if desired.

Notes

Feel free to substitute your favorite Italian tomato sauce, whether it’s homemade, or a jarred variety for an easier version. You will need about 4-5 cups.

Be sure to chop your kale very finely, to avoid clogging up your pastry bag when filling the shells.

A 9 x 13-inch baking dish should fit all of your shells snugly, or you can use two 9 x 9-inch dishes to give yourself a bit of extra room.

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Fox Kitchen
    October 14, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    Amazing!

    • Reply
      Alissa
      October 15, 2015 at 6:24 pm

      Thank you!

  • Reply
    Laura ~ Raise Your Garden
    October 15, 2015 at 7:54 am

    I feel like you can read my brain ~ I’ve had garlicky food on the brain for weeks now with my fresh garlic needed to get used. But with tomatoes, I like it fresh. But now that they weather has turned, I’d like it a bit more, um, baked. Time to put a little loving in the oven. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Reply
      Alissa
      October 15, 2015 at 6:26 pm

      I’m so with you on all of that! It’s gotten even cooler this week where I live, and I could totally go for another batch of this stuff. 🙂

  • Reply
    Emily
    October 15, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    I’m going to have to try this, as it looks to die for! Thanks for sharing this recipe!!

    • Reply
      Alissa
      October 15, 2015 at 6:28 pm

      You’re welcome and enjoy!!

  • Reply
    Taylor @ The Girls on Bloor
    October 15, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    The tofu is such a great idea here, especially for the extra protein!

  • Reply
    Niki
    October 20, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    These look amazing! I love the stuffed shells on Oh She Glows but find the tofu mixture can be a bit dry, the addition of a cashew cream is genius! I can’t wait to try this recipe.

    • Reply
      Alissa
      October 21, 2015 at 5:13 pm

      Thanks so much Niki! Enjoy! 🙂

  • Reply
    Lisa
    October 25, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    I just made this, and it exceeded my expectations! The filling is such a perfect substitution for ricotta cheese. I would suggest putting the ricotta filling in the fridge for a few hours and THEN adjusting for taste (lemon juice, salt, garlic powder) because it does taste different after the flavors “settle” for a few hours. Next time I will use those large shells instead of the manicotti tubes, because I think shells are easier to fill. Thanks for a great recipe! Oh, and I bought pasta sauce instead of making it.

    • Reply
      Alissa
      October 29, 2015 at 9:04 pm

      This recipe is very adaptable, and those all sound like great customizations! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks Lisa!

  • Reply
    Francesca
    December 21, 2015 at 8:25 am

    Hello there ♥ Just thought I’d leave a massage to let you know I’ve loved this amazing recipe and I’ve included it in my 50 Epic Vegan Christmas recipes’ roundup:
    http://sevenroses.net/2015/12/50-epic-vegan-christmas-recipes/
    Thank you & happy holidays! =)

    • Reply
      Alissa
      December 30, 2015 at 9:08 am

      Thanks so much for sharing this! Awesome roundup and Happy Holidays to you too!!

  • Reply
    Alyssa Stevens
    January 8, 2017 at 1:57 am

    I followed this recipe to the T today, and it was AMAZING!! It was very simple to follow. My dinner guests couldnt even tell that it wasnt real cheese!

    • Reply
      Alissa
      January 8, 2017 at 11:19 am

      That’s awesome to hear! I’m glad everyone enjoyed it. Thanks Alyssa. 🙂

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