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.
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.
For the Tomato Sauce
For the Vegan Ricotta and Kale Filling
Cook the Manicotti Shells:
Make the Tomato Sauce:
Make the Vegan Ricotta and Kale Filling:
Make the Baked Manicotti:
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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