Vegan Spinach + Ricotta Cannelloni (gluten free + low FODMAP options)

Updated: Aug 3, 2020

This used to be my favourite meal to order whenever we would go out to eat Italian.

Once I was diagnosed as Coeliac and then decided to become vegan though, my options were really limited.


I've desperately missed this dish since and was determined to make an alternative...and I did! It's aromatic, cheesy and so comforting.


This dish can be made gluten free, or not, and in the notes section I've included low FODMAP swaps and time-saving ideas. I could only find gluten free lasagna sheets in my local supermarket, so I've used them here. I have seen gluten free cannelloni shells online though.



Don't forget to tag me on Facebook or Instagram if you give it a go, I'd love to see your creations!


Makes: 10 cannelloni shells/5 serves

Time: Varies from 45 minutes- 1 hr 30 minutes (shortest with cannelloni shells, longest with dry lasagna sheets)


Ingredients

Tofu Ricotta

  • ~375g  firm tofu

  • ¼ C nutritional yeast

  • 60mL lemon juice

  • ¼-½ tsp salt

  • Pepper, to taste

  • ¼-½ tsp garlic powder (¼ is equivalent to two garlic cloves)

  • 1 tsp onion powder

  • ½C fresh basil

  • 1 tbsp oregano, or Italian herb mix

  • 2 tbs almond milk, unsweetened

  • 120g spinach

  • A dash of olive oil

Pasta, sauce and cheese

  • 10 cannelloni shells OR lasagna sheets (fresh or dry). I've used San Remo gluten free dry lasagna sheets here.

  • Passata (tomato puree) or marinara of choice (~700ml)

  • 2 tsp minced garlic, 1 diced brown onion, few fresh basil leaves, salt and pepper (optional)

  • Cheese of choice. I've used the below vegan parmesan here.

Vegan parmesan (optional)

  • ½C raw cashews

  • ¼ tsp salt

  • ½-¾ tsp garlic powder

  • 2-3 tbsp savour yeast flakes

Method

  1. Add 3/4 tofu and all other ingredients besides spinach to a blender or food processor. Blend until well mixed. Scrape down sides and blend again for a few seconds. Taste and add more garlic, salt, herbs as preferred.

  2. Heat some olive oil in pan and gently wilt down spinach.

  3. In the images, I've then mixed through the wilted spinach and quickly blended- not enough for all the spinach chunks to have disappeared, but it has coloured the mixture. If you don't want this, instead chop up the wilted spinach and mix through the ricotta mixture evenly.

  4. Crumble in remaining ¼ of tofu and stir through the ricotta mixture (for texture). Set aside.

If using cannelloni shells, follow on from here:

  1. If using pre-made sauce or are choosing to use a plain passata, then go to step 3. If not, now is when you would make your sauce. I've used homemade marinara and a simple passata before, both worked. It will really come down to time and preference.

  2. For a very simple sauce, heat olive oil in a pot. Once hot, add in diced onion and saute until transparent. Add in minced garlic and saute quickly for about 1 minute. Add in your passata and stir for 1-2 minutes. Then add in your basil and stir for another 1-2 minutes. If you prefer, you can add salt and pepper here too.

  3. Preheat oven as per cannelloni packet instructions (normally around 190C)

  4. Use ¾ sauce to fill the baking dish. Set aside remaining ¼.

  5. Using a teaspoon or piping tube, fill the cannelloni tubes with 2 tsp of ricotta mixture and line up in tray.

  6. Cover cannelloni with remaining sauce. If using a cheese that melts, top with cheese too.

  7. Cover baking tray with foil.

  8. Bake cannelloni in oven as according to packet instructions.

  9. If using vegan parmesan (make by quickly blending all ingredients in blender to fine powder- takes about 30 seconds), top baked dish with this once out of the oven.

Enjoy!


If using lasagna sheets, follow on from here:

Now, this does take longer without the cannelloni shells. If you have fresh lasagna sheets, you won't need to boil the pasta to soften, so you can skip those steps. If not, it does add some time unfortunately. It goes quickly and is kind of relaxing though! I'd recommend reading ahead before following the recipe so you know which method best suits your kitchen.


If using pre-made sauce or are choosing to use a plain passata, then go to step 2. If not, now is when you would make your sauce before setting aside. I've used homemade marinara and a simple passata before, both worked. It will really come down to time and preference.

  1. Make your sauce. For a very simple sauce, heat olive oil in a pot. Once hot, add in diced onion and saute until transparent. Add in minced garlic and saute quickly for about 1 minute. Add in your passata and stir for 1-2 minutes. Then add in your basil and stir for another 1-2 minutes. If you prefer, you can add salt and pepper here too.

  2. Use ¾ sauce to fill the baking dish. Set aside remaining ¼.

  3. Shorten the lasagna sheets. I used a clean cutting board, but find any clean surface you're happy to use. Select one lasagna sheet and remove 1/4 length from it. Use a sharp serrated knife to create a groove in the lasagna sheet about 3/4 way along, then break off the 1/4 length. If you're able to successfully cut it without smashing it, you can do that too. Do this for all sheets.

  4. Boil your kettle. Find a pot that will fit the lasagna sheets. Fill pot with boiling water and keep the heat on medium-low.

  5. Add the shortened lasagna sheet/s to the pot and let it simmer for until softened enough to roll up, but not cooked (GF took ~5 minutes, non GF ~2 minutes).

  6. If you have room in your pot to put more than one lasagna sheet without them touching and sticking together, you can boil them together to save time.

  7. If not, boil them individually.

  8. Once the sheet/s have softened enough to roll up. Remove from pot and place on surface your are using.

  9. If you softened multiple sheets at once, remove from pot and lay softened sheets individually on a clean, damp tea towel. Add any remaining, unsoftened lasagna sheets to the pot before proceeding to the next step.

  10. If doing one at a time (I've found this easiest), add in new, unsoftened lasagna sheet to the pot to simmer before proceeding to next step.

  11. Add 2 tsp of riccotta mixture in a vertical line on the lasagna sheet.

  12. Roll up the lasagna sheet around the mixture and have it sitting on the seam you've created. Add to baking dish- seam down.

  13. Continue this process until all sheets have been softened, filled and rolled.

  14. Once all 10 "cannelloni" are in the dish, cover cannelloni with remaining sauce. If using a cheese that melts, top with cheese too.

  15. Cover baking tray with foil.

  16. Bake in oven as according to packet instructions, though check around 1/2 and 3/4 of the way through. Mine was ready in 30 minutes, rather than 45 due to being softened. If using vegan parmesan (make by quickly blending all ingredients in blender to fine powder- takes about 30 seconds), top with this once out of the oven.

Enjoy!


Nutritional Info (per 2 cannelloni + sauce, as made)

272 Cal | 20.3g Protein | 6.9g Fat | 1.2g Sat. Fat | 28.9g Carbs | 6.9g Sugar | 9.1g Fibre | 213mg Sodium


NOTES:

  • Time saver: Make ricotta mixture and sauce day before and store in fridge to reduce steps day-of. You can also use lasagna sheets and mixture to make spinach and ricotta lasagna and save time without rolling up sheets. Fresh lasagna sheets, or sourcing cannelloni shells will always be faster options! If using dry lasagna sheets and softening them, I find it useful to use the time the pasta is softening to clean used utensils and containers then.

  • Low FODMAP options: You can definitely omit the garlic and onion in the ricotta mixture, but I would opt to remove 1 tbsp almond milk and replace with garlic-infused olive oil, if you have it. You can choose to use a FODMAP friendly sauce if more comfortable, or remove the garlic from the sauce but again, you could use a garlic-infused olive oil, or other herbs for some flavour. If having 2 gluten free cannelloni and removing these, you're sorted.

  • Reduce waste: If using dry lasagna sheets, instead of throwing away the little 1/4 length sheets you have remaining, use them to make spinach and ricotta ravioli by softening, cutting in half and layering mixture in between like a sandwich. I would bake these in the sauce, rather than try boil, however.

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