Now that it's cold, I've been turning on my oven to warm up the house. Yummy food, air freshener, and heater all rolled into one!
One of my favorite things to make lately has been baked pasta! It's so comforting. I've been experimenting with manicotti a lot and am so excited to share my recipe for the easiest, healthiest, most comforting-est manicotti ever! Here are some tips and tricks to get your manicotti game going!
1. I don't bother parboiling the tubes!
I know! I'm so crazy! But who wants to handle hot tubes? Or wash the pot that you parboiled the tubes in? Not me. I just take the tubes out of their box and fill them up with my tofu ricotta! See how easy it is to hold and fill dry cold pasta tubes? (I don't have a fancy pastry bag, so I reuse a produce bag to pipe in my filling)
2. I layer lots of raw vegetables on the bottom of my casserole!
I used summer squash and zucchini, tomatoes, and Swiss chard stems. First I pour about 1.5 cups of tomato sauce into the bottom of a casserole. Then, I layer in my sliced and chopped vegetables. This is a great time to use up those odds and ends, too! When the veggies cook they give off a lot of water, and make a delicious broth for the noodles to cook in. It works out so great!
3. I add yummy watery things to my tofu ricotta.
This time I used mushrooms and Swiss chard leaves, which complimented the sage from my back porch herb garden perfectly!!! They also give up a lot of water while they're cooking for the noodles to absorb!
4. I maximize the umami in my tofu ricotta!
You won't be able to stop tasting it! I add the brine from my lacto-fermented pickles for the lactid acid punch that you get from cheese. I also add apple cider vinegar and lemon for additional tang. The Bragg's is salty and savory and full of that yumminess you want. So is the miso. Get a Hawaiian-style one for times like this. They are sweet and salty.
5. I add fresh herbs!
I thought the sage in my tofu ricotta would taste great with some thyme and basil, so I threw in lots of fresh thyme and basil. Throw them in whenever you think to -- with the lid on the casserole everything bakes together and gets super yummy!
6. I do yoga while it's baking!
That way I am super hungry when it is done baking, and I think it is even more delicious! It takes about an hour to cook, so why not? With the veggies layered under and stuffed into the tubes, this is such a great complete meal to refuel after your workout!
7. I make sure to have enough to eat later!
I don't have time to cook everyday, and this reheats really well. The noodles are a little more mushy the next time, but the flavors are probably a little more intense!
1 package manicotti tubes
5 cups tomato sauce
Mixed vegetables – I used 3 summer squash, 1 zucchini, 1 Japanese eggplant, I bunch swish chard, 2 cups chopped tomatoes
Fresh herbs like basil, sage, and thyme
1 Batch of Rude Panda’s Terrific Tofu Ricotta! (recipe below)
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
2. Make your tofu ricotta and chop up your vegetables.
3. Pour half your tomato sauce in the bottom of a casserole. (I use two casseroles and divide everything between them.) Layer chopped raw veggies on top of tomato sauce. Put down a layer of your favorite herbs. I used sage and thyme for a super savory flavor. And, of course, basil for a little sweet floral accent!
4. Load up your tofu ricotta into a piping bag (or a produce bag with a corner cut off). Pipe tofu ricotta into manicotti tubes. Arrange tubes in casserole, leaving enough room for them to expand!
5. Pour remaining tomato sauce on top of manicotti. Top with fresh chopped tomatoes if they're in season.
6. Put a lid on your casserole, or if you don’t have a lid, cover with aluminum foil or a cookie sheet or something else you find in your kitchen that can go in the oven
7. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.
Terrific Tofu Ricotta!
1 package firm tofu
2 teaspoons mild sweet miso
1 Tablespoon Bragg’s liquid aminos (or Tamari or soy sauce)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
½ lemon – juice and zest
2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon mustard powder
¼ cup pickle juice (if you don’t have it, just add more vinegar and/or lemon juice)
4 ounces mushrooms (or more if you love them, or none of you hate them)
Swiss chard leaves
Pulse mushrooms and Swiss chard leaves in a food processor. Add tofu and everything else. Pulse until you reach desired consistency. Taste. If it needs something, add it.
If you don’t have a food processor:
Mash tofu with a fork. Get silken tofu for a creamier consistency. Chop mushrooms and Swiss chard as finely as you can with your knife. Mix everything together.
Oh! I have to thank vegantease for hosting Rude Panda Food Panda! I wanted to start posting recipes somewhere. I was tired of remembering that I ate something yummy and forgetting how I made it, so, it's great to have this little piece of internet real estate. I haven't figured out which recipe plugins work with Shopify, though, so you'll have to wait for printable recipes and all that. Comment below if you have any recommendations!