Sorry for the lack of posting but with the holidays right around the corner I have been running around like a mad woman trying to finish last minute Christmas shopping.
Instead of waiting until Christmas to exchange gifts with my girl friends I decided to throw a christmas dinner. Normally I would have gone the Asian route but this time I wanted to find a dish that could be served "family style" because my girls are my family. So to the cookbooks I went. Needless to say I have fallen in love Betty Goes Vegan by Annie and Dan Shannon. Its a vegan version of the classic Betty Crocker cookbook, what's not to love! I don't reprint recipes from cookbooks without permission because that is just a foul to do. So I reached out to Annie, via email, to ask if she would allow me to reprint her recipe, with credit of course. I honestly didn't think she woulI remember me for Vegfest but she did and she said I can reprint the recipe!!!! I was totes excited! I decided on the Manicotti with a Kalamata Olive Pesto Tofu. This dish is an undertaking but it was well worth it.
Manicotti with a Kalamata Olive Pesto Tofu
1 Package 10-12 Manicotti Tubes (cooked per directions on the package - you want them to be a little firmer than al dente so they don't get mushy when baked and keep them from tearing while you're filling them)
1/2 Cup Daiya Mozzarella Cheese
2 Tablespoons Vegan Parmesan Cheese
Olive Oil Cooking Spray
Dried Oregano and Red Pepper Flakes to sprinkle over the top
1 Jar of your Favorite Pasta Sauce
3 Tomatoes (diced)
2 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
2 Tablespoons Braggs
1/3 Cup Red Wine
1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
2 Teaspoon Oregano
1/3 Cup Fresh Basil (diced)
1/3 Cup Fresh Spinach
2 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley (diced)
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Kalamata Pesto Tofu Filling
1 Package Extra Firm Tofu (drained)
1/2 Cup Fresh Spinach
1/4 Cup Fresh Basil
15 Kalamata Olives
5-6 White Mushrooms
1 1/2 Teaspoon Roasted Pine Nuts
2 Teaspoon Sun-dried Tomatoes
2 Cloves Garlic (minced)
1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
Heat oven to 350.
Put all the Sauce ingredients in a large pot and heat at a medium heat. Stir periodically.
Put each ingredient in a food processor or blender (one at a time) and blend them till they are a paste. Don't worry about wiping out the machine after each ingredient - you'll be mixing them anyways. Put all the processed ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a large spoon until blended. If you have a pastry bag set or decorating gun, fill that with the Tofu filling and set it up with the largest tip.
Spray a lasagna dish with Olive Oil Cooking Spray. Take your cooked Manicotti Tubes and fill with the Filling - either with your pastry bag, decorating gun or just use a spoon and be gentle. After you fill each one place it in the lasagna dish. You should end up with just the right amount of Filling to fill the Manicotti Tubes.
Pour 2 ladles of the Sauce over the top and sprinkle the Daiya and Vegan Parmesan Cheese.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. You'll know it's done when the Daiya is melted and the Sauce is bubbly. Sprinkle Red Pepper Flake and Dried Oregano and more Sauce if you'd like over the top when you serve.>
I've never tried to make Manicotti, vegan or not so I had no clue what I was getting into. At one point Keithon came into the kitchen and said are you still cooking. I told him yes now go away. I love that this recipe calls for a lot of fresh herbs and veggies and it used my fav go to of tofu for ricotta! The manicotti shells are what I was most fearful of because I did not want them to tear because if they did then my dinner would be ruined and Cassi would be in tears. Needless to say even with all my careful planning and timing a few shells did break. When life gives you torn manicotti shells you make mini lasagnas. I do not waste food and there were no tears. A few curse words yes but tears no. With my food processor being broken I was glad that the recipe said that I could use a blender to make the tofu ricotta and I am glad that I did because there was no way I was getting all of the mixture into my baby food processor. Once I stuffed the shells, I set to work on the salad. My plan was to do a simple green salad but I had a shit ton of fresh spinach and pine nuts left so I decided on a Spinach, mushroom and pine nut salad with a blueberry balsamic dressing. Now an Italian dinner wouldn't be dinner without a rich dessert so I whipped up some Diva Delights and an orange vanilla frosting so I could make Whoppie Pies. After dinner we sat around trying to come up with a catchy name for the pies but after a few glasses of wine we failed. My girls RAVED about the Manicotti which totally excited me because Bianca and I are the only vegans in the group. Had I not told them I'm sure they wouldn't have know it was vegan aside from the fact that I don't cook with animal products. My Christmas lunch was a success and no one notice the torn shells. I was a happy camper and I even pulled out the good wine for lunch, by good wine I mean my last bottle of 2 buck Chuck. Mama loves her 2 Buck Chuck but today I shared with my girls.
I made place cards for the table that were Winnie the Pooh character themed and had each girl try to figure out which one they were. Bianca. This game took forever but in the end Bianca is Pooh Bear, Amy is Tigger, Brenna is Roo, Nicole is Owl, Jennifer is Eeyore and Aisha is Kanga. Now I'm Christopher Robin, I explained to the girls that the reason I did this is because I don't have a best friend and the 6 of them make up the best of me plus no one person can handle all of the crazy that is me. The gifts I gave them were also Winnie the Pooh themed. There is a series of Winnie the Pooh "life" books and each girl's book fit their personality. Bianca got the Fitness one, Amy's was the Picnic cookbook, Brenna got Cookie cookbook, Nicole received Friendship, Aisha got Tea Time and Jennifer got Life Lessons. I also made the girls chocolate from the molds I made a few weeks ago at Five in One as well as some other chocolates. Of course they gave me gifts as well and this year my girls spoiled me rotten. All of their gifts showed that they really know, listen to me and love me. This has been the best Christmas I have had in years and I have my girls to thank for that. I could not have made it through this year without them.
If you have not gotten Betty Goes Vegan visit Meet the Shannons and get a copy! I could cook from this cookbook everyday and still not finish it. Every vegan and non vegan should own a copy of the massive cookbook.