Monday, March 12, 2012

Recipe: Spinach & Tofu Manicotti

The figure of the enthusiast who has just discovered jogging or a new way to fix tofu can be said to stand… as the representative American. – Lewis H. Lapham

Sorry for the messy plate, but I wanted to show the filling,
so this is halfway through our dining.
Spinach manicotti are usually made with a filling of ricotta and spinach, plus some spices. They’re delicious.

Ricotta. Click to enlarge.
Why on earth would you substitute tofu? Well, there’s two reasons actually. The first is that tofu, at $2.50 per pound, is half the cost of ricotta. The second, which has more bearing on healthy eating, is that tofu is a great way to introduce protein into your diet without  the dietary drawbacks of meat.

One cup of tofu gives us half of our daily requirement of protein. Ricotta serves up the same amount. But the difference is in the fat and cholesterol. There’s no cholesterol at all in tofu because it’s plant-based.

Think of a tofu substitution as a way of getting meat in your diet without killing the pig or cow.

There is one major problem with using tofu in non-Asian recipes. It can be tasteless. That’s the chief beef (pardon the pun) that people have with including it in their diets.

Tofu. Click to enlarge.
So you have to work a little harder to get some flavour in it. But worry not. Tofu does take flavours very well. I’ve flavoured tofu very successfully in my Tofu Parmigiana recipe. It’s extremely good. Look here.

There’s two unusual ingredients in this that help boost the tofu’s flavour: nutritional yeast and soy. Tofu benefits from the salt in the soy. Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast that is a complete protein and full of B vitamins. It’s also great powdered and sprinkled on popcorn!

The trick to flavouring tofu is to marinate for an hour (or in the refrigerator for the day). This recipe is easy to get going in the morning and then have all ready to go when you get home. And who doesn’t love manicotti? 

This is a great way to introduce healthy tofu into your diet.

Spinach & Tofu Manicotti
Marinate: 1 hour  |  Prep: 20 min  |  Cook 50-60 min  |  Makes 12 manicotti
1 lb firm tofu
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
10 oz baby spinach, cooked and drained
1/2 cup fresh parsley
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 eggs
2-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
700 ml jar of pasta sauce
1 cup water
6 6”x9” sheets fresh pasta, each cut in half to 6”x4.5”

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a medium sized bowl crumble the tofu into fine pieces. Add the olive oil, soy sauce, chilli flakes, onion powder, garlic powder, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix well and marinate on the counter for 1 hour, or for the day in the refrigerator.

After marinating, add the nutritional yeast and nutmeg. Chop the spinach well and add to the tofu. Do the same with the parsley and garlic cloves.. Toss to mix.

Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add to the tofu mixture. Then stir in 1 cup of the mozzarella. This is your filling.

Spread 1 cup of the pasta sauce on the bottom of a 10” x 14” baking dish.

Scoop out a scant 1/3 cup of the filling and place on top of a piece of pasta. Spread to make a “log” of filling on the 6” dimension. Roll the manicotti up and place, seam side down, into the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining filling.

Top the manicotti with the remaining pasta sauce. Pour the water over the top of the pasta.

Sprinkle the grated cheeses on top and place in the oven. Let the manicotti bake for between 50 min to 1 hour, or until the pasta is cooked through and the cheese is bubbly.

To have a meal for six, serve two manicotti per person with a salad.


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