No more missing out on your Italian favorite! A Classic Baked Gluten-Free & Vegan Manicotti recipe with homemade tomato sauce, a creamy dairy-free & soy-free cheesy filling, all topped with a homemade 2-ingredient “parmesan”! A perfect comfort food dinner the whole family will enjoy!
Because what else screams comfort food than a cozy, cheesy, saucy, baked pasta dish? Hm, well, I can think of a few things, but back in the day, this would have been it! Manicotti was just one of those Italian pasta dishes that just melted in your mouth (and melted the heart!). So good and so comforting. Those thin, soft, “crepe-like” noodles filled with ricotta and shredded cheese, smothered in a lovely tomato sauce and baked to perfection. So let’s flip this classic dish on its head and make it a gluten-free and vegan manicotti!
How could you possibly make that classic manicotti gluten-free and vegan? O, don’t worry my celiac and plant-based cohorts! There is a way, a very delicious way! Once you get your hands on these brown rice manicotti noodles, all you need is some luscious almond ricotta, shredded vegan mozzarella, a jar of plain tomato sauce which you’ll be dressing up with spices and herbs, and finally a super quick secret vegan parmesan!
My special dairy-free parmesan is just a quick blitzed combo of raw hemp hearts and NOOCH (aka nutritional yeast)! One can not have a cheesy pasta dish without some nooch somewhere in there! The parmesan on top was the perfect opportunity to throw it in, along with some nutty/seedy hemp seeds for a perfect flavor combo and texture! It essentially is the “cherry on top”!
I just love how fork-soft the manicotti noodles get! A little parcel of delicious cheezy filling that makes you think you’re eating the “real deal” thing! Fooling the celiac (and vegan) mind and taste buds 100%! This manicotti is not only perfect for a cozy (chilly) winter’s night, but a fantastic make-ahead, stow in the freezer, kind of dish! One that I feel would be great to make as a “get well soon” or “new parents” dinner drop off gift. Or, just an emergency meal to have in the freezer for a quick reheated dinner on an unexpected hectic night!
Baked pasta dishes are essentially casseroles, are they not? I guess anything you bake in a ceramic casserole dish is! This isn’t just a dump-and-go casserole though, this is a beautiful labor of love. A little elbow grease is required (you will be filling), stirring a beautiful homemade sauce, making a tightly packed pasta line-up, but you’ll be enjoying the most delicious baked gluten-free & vegan manicotti you’ve ever tasted (or…the first you’ve ever tasted!)
Classic Baked Gluten-Free + Vegan Manicotti
- 1 Box Gluten-Free Manicotti Pasta
- Ricotta Filling:
- 2 Cups Plain Almond Ricotta (I use Kite Hill)
- 1 Cup Shredded Vegan Mozzarella (I use So Delicious)
- 2 TB Chopped Fresh Parsley
- ½ Cup Raw Hemp Hearts
- ¼ Cup Nutritional Yeast
- Tomato Sauce:
- 2 (15 oz) Cans Plain Unsalted Tomato Sauce
- ½ Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
- ¼ Cup Chopped Fresh Basil
- ¼ Cup Minced Shallots
- 2 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Tsp Minced Garlic
- ½ Tsp Black Pepper
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Boil the box of noodle according to directions for 4-5 minutes, drain, rinse, and set aside.
- Mix all the tomato sauce ingredients together in a large pot on the stove and simmer away for 10 minutes while you assemble the pasta.
- In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta filling ingredients.
- In a small food processor, blitz together the hemp seeds and nutritional yeast. Add ¼ cup of this parmesan to the ricotta filling bowl.
- Get a 9x13 casserole dish out and lightly coat the bottom of the pan with the cooked sauce.
- Fill the cooked manicotti with the ricotta filling using a pastry bag, this filling gun, or a spoon!
- Place the filled manicotti noodles tightly packed together in rows in the casserole dish. Cover the noodles with the rest of the sauce and sprinkle on the rest of the hemp parmesan you made.
- Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
- Remove and serve!
If your mouth watering, your stomach growling, your heart and soul just CRAVING the comfort of this gluten-free & vegan manicotti? I know mine is! I (and my Italian family) can attest to the warm and cozy deliciousness even with the manicotti being so “free-from”. There may be a lot of steps to this recipe, but it’s super easy when you break it down! It’s just mixing things together, assembling all the parts, and letting it bake to melt-in-your-mouth perfection! And those leftovers too! So worth the wait!
So tell me:
+ Do you have a go-to “casserole” dish you always keep stocked in the freezer for yourself or make and gift to others?
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