I agree with chef Bonnie Tees that stir-fries are one of the most poorly prepared (and, in my opinion, over prepared) vegetarian menu items out there. If I have to eat another bland burrito, stir-fry, or plate of spaghetti with marinara, so help me God…
With that said, it’s nice that in today’s food world, vegetarian options have finally expanded beyond the three fallback items above. Restaurants around the world are now more willing to take chances with vegetarian dishes—even if that chance is just an updated version of an old classic.
Chef Bonnie, from Bonnys in Montréal, was sweet enough to share this recipe for cannelloni—the classic tube-shaped pasta that is often stuffed with a creamy filling before being covered in tomato sauce and baked.
I opted to add extra sauce to my “cannelloni” (I had to follow Bonnie’s advice and use rolled lasagna sheets because I couldn’t find cannelloni), which I learned is now acceptable because The New York Times says so. The result was a comforting dish that surprisingly had even more flavor than I had expected from the minimal ingredients.
Tofu and Spinach-Stuffed Cannelloni With Tomato Sauce
For the Tomato Sauce:
1 28-oz. #3 can whole tomatoes, blended
1 8-oz. can tomato paste
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 cup barley or rice miso
- Bring all the ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan and simmer for 30 minutes.
For the Cannelloni:
1 bunch spinach, washed
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 block firm tofu, crumbled in a food processor
2 tsp. tarragon
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp. umeboshi vinegar
8 cooked cannelloni noodles
- Scald the spinach in boiling water. Let sit for 5 minutes, then drain well and chop.
- Sauté the onions and garlic. Add the spinach and tofu and mix well.
- Add the tarragon, salt, nutmeg, and umeboshi vinegar, mixing well.
- Fill the cooked noodles with the spinach-tofu mixture.
- Place the stuffed cannelloni in a single layer in an oiled baking dish. Top with the prepared tomato sauce and cover with foil. Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake until browned.
Note: You can cook lasagna noodles and cut them in half to use in place of the cannelloni noodles.
Makes 8 cannelloni