The difference between this vegan cannelloni recipe and the classic dairy version are the white ingredients. Ricotta is replaced by tofu and cashews and soy milk replace the butter and milk in the béchamel sauce. Everything else remains traditional.
In the United States, cannelloni is confused with manicotti because both are tubular shaped and filled with similar ingredients. Manicotti is actually made using crepes. To confuse things more, cannelloni shells are commonly mislabeled “manicotti” in stores and cannelloni shells are more difficult to find.
The tubular shells are about five inches long so ideally you would use a 10-inch wide pan that is 12 to 14 inches long to fit 7 rows of manicotti placed end to end—for this recipe at least. You can divide this recipe in half and use two separate 5-inch wide by 6 to 7 inches long and make single rows.
Provided here are quick marinara and béchamel sauce recipes to cut prep time. The only cooking before baking is boiling the pasta.
If you have leftover filling, combine with any leftover marinara or béchamel sauce and cooked penne or other pasta and bake separately in its own casserole. You can also serve leftover sauces warm on the side for those extra sauce lovers. Garlic bread is a wonderful accompaniment for mopping up the sauces on your plate.
Serves 6 to 8
- 1 14-count box Cannelloni pasta (sometimes mislabeled “Manicotti”)
- 3 cups Marinara Sauce
- 2 cups Béchamel Sauce
- 2 cups steamed or frozen and thawed spinach
- 2 (14-ounce) packages firm tofu, drained well
- 1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- ½ teaspoon dry oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Black pepper
- 1 cup soaked cashews
- ¾ cup soymilk
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 14-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dry basil
- ¼ teaspoon dry oregano
- ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Cook the pasta until slightly undercooked, 6 or 7 minutes, or according to package directions. Rinse, drain and set aside.
To make the stuffing, squeeze excess liquid out of the spinach, finely chop and transfer to a large bowl. Crumble the tofu over the spinach. Add the bell pepper, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper and mix well. Taste for salt, adding more as desired.
To make the Quick Béchamel Sauce combine the ingredients and blend until smooth. Emersion blender works well for this.
To make the Quick Marinara Sauce combine the ingredients and blend until smooth.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spread ½ cup of the marinara evenly on the bottom of a large shallow casserole dish.
Stuff the shells with the filling and place in the casserole dish. Pour the remaining marinara over the center of the stuffed shells leaving the ends uncovered.
Spoon the béchamel on top of the marinara. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes and let cool uncovered for 10 more minutes before serving.
Tip: If there are leftover filling and sauces, combine with cooked pasta such as penne’ and bake alongside the casserole or freeze and bake another day.