Spinach, Cashew Ricotta & ‘Ham’ Cannelloni

Growing up, this was my absolute favourite meal. Like seriously, when my mum would make this I would die with excitement. I could eat platefuls and platefuls of it, no matter how much junk I had eaten after school (Did anyone else do that? Eat copious amounts of chips and treats and then not finish their dinner?)

Spinach, Cashew Riccotta & 'Ham' Canneloni (4 of 4).jpg


But anyway, this dish – is amazing. There’s a small amount of prep involved with the cashew ricotta & coconut bacon (which stands in as the “Ham” element here) – but it’s entirely worth it. It’s flavourful, creamy and 100% VEGAN!

If you can find gluten free cannelloni then go for it! I can also imagine this would be amazing stuffed between large pasta shells, or even hidden amongst layers of lasagne.
Spinach, Cashew Riccotta & 'Ham' Canneloni (3 of 4).jpg

Anyway, if you do give it a try and let me know what you think by leaving a comment, posting on Instagram and using the hashtag #sobeautifullyreal so I can see your creations.


 

Spinach, Cashew Ricotta & ‘Ham’ Cannelloni

Serves 2-3


 

For the cashew ricotta;

2 cups cashews, soaked for 3-6 hours

juice of 2 lemons

1 garlic clove, crushed

150g firm silken tofu

1 tsp pink himalayan salt

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

 

For the ‘coconut ham’;

1 cup coconut flakes

3 tbsp tamari

1 tbsp maple syrup or coconut nectar

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp sweet paprika

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

2 tsp liquid smoke

 

Cannelloni Filling;

Approx 230g of Cannelloni Tubes (I used 1 large packet and 1/4 of another packet)

1 brown onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 large handfuls of spinach, washed and roughly chopped

1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 tbsp finely chopped basil leaves

1 tbsp finely chopped chives

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp sea salt (adjust to taste)

1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

1 cup shredded vegan mozzarella

 

For the tomato pasta sauce;

700g Passata sauce

1 large brown onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, finely diced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder

2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 large handful basil leaves, finely chopped

salt & pepper to taste

You’ll also need;

2 cups shredded vegan mozzarella (I used Follow Your Hearts brand)



 

  1. Prepare the cashew ricotta first by draining the cashews then blending all ricotta ingredients in a food processor for just a couple of minutes until creamy. Do not over blend, as you still want it slightly ‘lumpy’ – just like ricotta. Transfer it to a bowl and keep chilled in the fridge whilst you prepare the other components.
  2. Prepare the coconut ‘ham’ or ‘bacon’ next by soaking the coconut flakes in the rest of the ingredients for at least 30 minutes. You don’t want huge chunks of coconut – so if your flakes are on the larger side, simply give the flakes a really quick pulse in a food processor to break them down a little. Whilst these are soaking, let’s prepare the rest of the filling.
  3. To prepare the cannelloni filling begin by frying the onion and garlic in olive oil over a medium heat until fragrant and slightly browned. Remove from the heat and add the spinach to the pan – the heat from the onions will begin to wilt the spinach slightly. Once the spinach has almost wilted, quickly transfer this mixture into the bowl you have set aside the cashew ricotta in. Add the spices & vegan cheese, and give a good mix until everything is well combined. Set aside back in the fridge whilst you quickly fry the coconut bacon.
  4. In a good quality non stick pan, dry fry the coconut flakes over a medium heat for a few minutes. Ensure you stir them constantly as they quickly burn! After only a few minutes they will begin to crisp slightly and become fragrant. Remove them from the heat and set them aside on a paper towel to drain off any excess liquid.
  5. Gently fold through the coconut ‘bacon/ham’ into the ricotta mixture. Give the mixture a taste and feel free to season more if needed. Cover, and set aside in the fridge whilst you prepare the tomato pasta sauce.
  6. In a large saucepan or frying pan, fry the onion & garlic on olive oil until fragrant. Add the brown sugar to the pan and continue to stir until the onion is slightly caramelised. Next, add the Passata sauce, spices and herbs. Let the sauce simmer for 3-4 minutes, then season to taste. Set aside.
  7. Begin by preheating your oven to 200C.
  8. Fill each cannelloni tube with the ricotta filling – Use a piping bag to make it easier, but if you’re like me and don’t have a piping bag at home you could fill it into snapback bags and slit a hole in the corner of the bag to pipe it into the tubes. Or, you can use your fingers & a teaspoon! It is messier, but that works for me as well.
  9. Spread some of the tomato pasta sauce on the bottom of a baking dish (I used a 20x30cm dish) then neatly arrange the cannelloni tubes. Cover the tubes completely with the remaining sauce.
  10. Cover the sauce with the grated mozzarella. Alternatively, you can ‘pre-melt’ your vegan cheese by simply melting the cheese in a small sauce pan with 2 tbsp plant based milk over a medium heat. Stir it constantly over the heat and it will begin to melt down into a creamy cheese sauce. Add more plant based milk if you desire. Pour this over the Cannelloni. (NOTE: This is optional, however I feel that some vegan cheeses don’t melt very well – so if this is the case for you I’d highly recommend melting it first)
  11. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes. Once the pasta is tender and the top is slightly browned it is ready! Remove and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Serving options;
Fresh Basil Leaves

Vegan Parmasen Cheese

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