Manicotti Stuffed With Cashew Ricotta and Spinach

recipe by John Fothergill
Ricotta

  • 1.5 cup soaked cashew
  • Lemon juice of 1 large lemon
  • S&P
  • 1.5 TBSP nutritional yeast

The Rest

  • EVOO
  • 2 bunch spinach
  • Parsley, basil, dill
  • Manicotti shells
  • Mushrooms
  • Splash white wine
  • Strained tomatoes
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Vegan cheddar style cheese

Directions

  1. Soak 1.5 cup cashew for approximately 3 hrs.
  2. Dice a bunch of shallots and garlic.
  3. Preheat oven to 375F and boil large pot of water (add salt once boiling).
  4. Saute 2 bunches of spinach (washed and stems removed) then set aside in a colander to remove excess water.
  5. Saute some shallot in EVOO till translucent then add garlic. Continue sauteing until shallots are slightly browned. Season with S&P. Add to mixing bowl for stuffing.
  6. Rough chop spinach then add to stuffing mixing bowl.
  7. Half cook approximately 10 Manicotti shells (approximately 7 minutes) in the boiling water. Set aside to cool.
  8. Zest a lemon. Set zest aside to use for mushrooms.
  9. Make the cashew ricotta by blending the cashews with juice from a large lemon and 1.5 tbsp of nutritional yeast. Season with S&P. Blend until creamy in texture adding cashew soaking water as needed.
  10. Add ricotta to stuffing mixing bowl. Combine.
  11. Saute shallots and garlic (as in step 5) then add 1 jar or 2 cans of strained tomatoes (no skins and no seeds). Simmer on low.
  12. Fine chop some dill and tear some basil. Add to tomato sauce.
  13. Coat bottom of large glass baking dish with a thin layer of tomato sauce.
  14. Stuff the cooled manicotti shells with stuffing mixture. Arrange each in the baking dish. Try not to squeeze them together.
  15. Stir sauce then cover Manicotti with it. If you totally cover pasta it won’t dry out when baking. Grate some cheddar style vegan cheese over Manicotti. Bake for 30mins.
  16. Rough chop a bunch of mushrooms of your choice and some parsley. Saute shallots and garlic as in step 5. Add mushrooms. Deglaze with white wine. Add some parsley saving some as garnish. Cook down.
  17. Remove cooked Manicotti from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.
  18. Serve Manicotti on warmed plates. Top manicotti with mushrooms. Circle Manicotti with warmed EVOO. Garnish with remaining parsley.

ENJOY!!!

Why go vegan?

  • Animal agriculture results in the suffering of over 100 billion animals each year.
  • Animal agriculture is the 2nd leading cause of climate change.
  • Animal agriculture is the cause for 90% of rainforest deforestation.
  • Animal agriculture is the cause of 75% of antibiotic resistance.
  • Animal agriculture is the cause of at least 50% of heart disease and diabetes cases.
  • Animal agriculture is the cause of at least 50% of most cancers.
  • Animal agriculture uses at least 50% of our water reserves.
  • Animal agriculture runoff is the leading source of water pollution and causes the majority of ocean dead zones.

Simple Yet Tasty Spaghetti Sauce

San Marzano Tomatoesa variety of plum tomatoes, are considered by many chefs to be the best paste tomatoes in the world. (Wikipedia)

San Marzano tomato

San Marzano tomato

The key to a delicious spaghetti sauce is keeping it simple and using the correct type of tomatoes.  I’ve tried different types of tomatoes but the best tomatoes I recommend are san marzano tomatoes.  These types of tomatoes have thinner skins versus other tomatoes with thicker flesh and fewer seeds.  On it’s own these tomatoes have a stronger taste, sweeter and less acidic, perfect basis for a spaghetti sauce.

Ingredients

2 thin slices of pancetta (if you want a vegetarian version feel free to omit this as it will still be tasty)
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 can of San Marzano tomatoes
fresh parmesean
fresh mozzarella
fresh basil leaves

Chop the pancetta into small pieces and fry over medium to high heat.  While it is cooking, mince the garlic.  Add it to the pan without draining any of the fat.  If you feel there is too much fat or want a healthier version by all means, drain the fat prior to adding the garlic or skip completely as it will still taste good.  Stir the mixture approximately 2-3 minutes.  Slowly add the San Marzano tomatoes including the liquid being careful not to splatter yourself.  Mash the tomatoes in the pan and cook the sauce over medium to high heat until the sauce is reduced by two thirds – you want to aim for a dry sauce.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Cook spaghetti noodles according to the package (unless you feel motivated to make fresh pasta) and toss with the sauce.  Plate the spaghetti, sprinkle shredded Parmesan over the dish and slices of fresh mozzarella.  Add torn basil leaves for garnish.  If you want to kick it up a notch, drizzle a bit of basil oil over the dish and enjoy.

Tarragon

When people think of the top 3 most common herbs, tarragon probably isn’t on that list.  Top 3 herbs usually includes basil, rosemary, and thyme.  Lately I have become more fond of tarragon the more I incorporate it into my cooking.  I have to admit that I didn’t discover tarragon until a few months ago.

Tarragon

Tarragon

Tarragon can be found wherever other herbs are sold, fresh or dried.  My preference is fresh tarragon as you can’t beat the taste of fresh herbs though in a pinch I’ve used dried tarragon.  Tarragon is quite aromatic reminiscent of anise.  The description on the back of the package I have describes it as “anise and vanilla scent and a hot, sweet taste”.  This may sound unappetizing but it really is a delicious addition to meals.  Only the leaves are used in cooking and is suitable with fish, seafood, eggs, chicken, meats and sauces.  From my experience, I love incorporating tarragon with chicken.  I find it enhances the taste of chicken without being overpowering.  I’ve used it when making brine, roast chicken, and tarragon chicken pasta.  if you’ve never cooked with tarragon I highly recommend it.

Pesto

One of the easiest, most versatile sauce/condiment to make is pesto.  Why anyone would purchase store bought pesto is beyond me.  The only reason I can think of having a jar lying around is the convenience if you can’t make it to the grocery store.  Pesto is packed full of flavor where it’s main use is in pastas.  However you can also use pesto in soups, hamburger dressing, butter, salads, fish, meatballs – the options are endless.  Pesto requires 5 main ingredients with basil being the star.  I highly recommend making pesto from scratch if you’ve never done so and experiment with different types of basil.

Fresh Basil

Fresh Basil

Pesto

2 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup toasted pinenuts
2-3 garlic cloves (feel free to add more depending on your preference but note the garlic is not cooked so you don’t want to overpower the basil)
1 cup olive oil
1/2 Parmesan cheese
dash of salt *optional

I don’t measure the ingredients so the above is a rough estimate.  Once you have all the ingredients, place the first 3 in a food processor and pulse.  Drizzle in the olive oil until it is the desired consistency you want.  Stir in the cheese and add salt per your preference.  Mix with cooked pasta or whatever you want.