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Without question, my all-time favorite childhood meal was my mom’s manicotti.  It was one of my first meals:  my mom pureed it and fed it to me when I was a baby.  I grew up a typical omnivore.  I loved cheese!

Unfortunately, the manicotti from my childhood features not much more than sauce and noodles with cheese (cottage), cheese (mozzarella) and more cheese (parmesan).  It also has egg in it.  Not vegan!

After I went vegan, I set out to veganize my mom’s manicotti.  I think I did a pretty great job!  This recipe is my own except please note that the Powdered Cheez Blend is not my recipe (I forgot where I got it from).

STEP 1:

Saute in 1-2 T OLIVE or COCONUT OIL:

4 chopped SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS
about 1/4 of an ONION, chopped
several cloves GARLIC, minced
about 1/3 of a bunch of SPINACH, chopped
4 SUN-DRIED TOMATOES, chopped (oil-packed or dried & re-hydrated)
2 T ITALIAN SEASONING blend
1 T DRIED PARSLEY
1/2 t FENNEL SEEDS
1/4 t CRUSHED RED PEPPER FLAKES
dash SALT
dash PEPPER

Remove from heat then add 1/2 T BALSAMIC VINEGAR and set aside.

STEP 2:

With a fork, crumble 1/2 a block (7 oz) of drained FIRM TOFU.

Heat 1/4 C of POWDERED CHEEZ BLEND (see recipe below) in 1/2 C water in a small saucepan until it thickens, then remove from the heat.  Combine the tofu & this cheez sauce.

Set aside about 1/2 a package of DAIYA MOZZARELLA STYLE SHREDS.

STEP 3:

In a large bowl, combine the sauteed veggies, the tofu/cheez sauce blend, and the Daiya.

Stuff filling into 1 pkg MANICOTTI NOODLES and add stuffed noodles to a 9”x13” pan.

To ‘clean’ the bowl that had the filling mixture in it, add the sauce ingredients:  1-25.5 oz JAR SPAGHETTI SAUCE, 1-14.5 OZ CAN DICED TOMATOES, and 1/4 cup water.  Add sauce over the noodles.

Bake covered at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, then 5-10 minutes uncovered.  Wait 10 minutes before eating (that’s the hard part!)

POWDERED CHEEZ BLEND

Process the following in a food processor until finely ground:

3/4 C raw cashews or almonds
1/2 C rolled oats
1/4 C raw sunflower seeds
1 C nutritional yeast flakes
2 T arrowroot
2 t dry mustard
1-2 t garlic powder (I use the lesser amount of garlic & onion, and I use less salt, too)
1-2 t onion powder
2 t sea salt
1 t paprika or chili powder

Store in fridge for up to 2 months. To prepare sauce, whisk 1 part blend to 2 parts water or non-dairy milk in a saucepan, medium heat until it thickens, 2-3 minutes.

Spaghetti can be a quick dinner requiring little more than heating spaghetti sauce & cooking pasta.  But jarred sauce is not too exciting.  This “meaty” add-in turns a plain spaghetti dinner into something much more tasty, nutritious, and satisfying.  You can also incorporate it into lasagna, manicotti and more…

Make this large batch and portion into 1/2 cup size glass freezer jars.  It will make about 10 servings.  Freeze.  Then, on “spaghetti night,” just thaw and heat up one jar (1/2 cup) Italian Mushroom Saute into 1/2 jar (26 oz jar size) of vegan spaghetti sauce (Serves 2).

Italian Mushroom Saute (with Carrot)

1 T Coconut Oil (for the pan)

1 Carrot and/or 1 Red Pepper (chopped)
1 Medium Onion (chopped)
Several Cloves Garlic (to taste) (minced)

Dash salt & pepper
1 T dried basil
1 T Italian Seasoning Blend
1 T Nutritional Yeast Flakes
1/8-1/4 t Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

15 med-large Crimini Mushrooms (chopped)
10 med-large Shiitake Mushrooms (chopped)

1 T Vegan Worcestershire Sauce (i.e without anchovy)
1 T Balsamic Vinegar
1 T Vinegar from Kalamata Olive Jar

6 Kalamata Olives (pitted and minced)
2 Sun-dried Tomato (oil packed or dried & rehydrated; minced)

1 T Red Cooking Wine

In a large saute pan, heat the oil on medium heat and gradually add the ingredients in the following order:

  1. Onion, Garlic & Carrot/Red Pepper + Spices
  2. Mushrooms
  3. Worcestershire, Vinegars
  4. Olives, Tomato
  5. Cooking Wine

It’s done when the mushrooms are cooked and the liquid is reduced.

Italian Mushroom Saute (with Red Pepper)

"There are those who are appalled because I am so vocal about injustice, yet I am equally appalled by their silence." Lujene Clark

“Every time you purchase animal products you pay assassins to murder sentient beings for you.”

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