How to Make Spinach and Mushroom Manicotti

By Suzanne Havala

This vegetarian recipe calls for manicotti noodles — long, hollow tubes of pasta that are about 4 inches long and 1 inch in diameter. Traditionally, they’re cooked and then filled with a mixture of cheese and herbs and topped with a tomato-based pasta sauce.

This version replaces cheese with tofu and nondairy Parmesan cheese. The result is a rich, flavorful dish with a fraction of the saturated fat and cholesterol of the original. This dish is good served with a bowl of minestrone soup, a tossed green salad, and fresh Italian bread.

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Azurita]
Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Azurita

Preparation time: 30 minutes or less

Cook time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6 manicotti (6 small servings or 3 large servings)

10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

4-ounce can sliced mushrooms, drained

1 pound firm tofu

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon salt, if desired

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups spaghetti sauce (any bottled or fresh variety)

6 manicotti tubes

Soy Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon diced black olives

Chopped fresh parsley and black olives for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Cook the manicotti according to package directions. While the pasta cooks, drain the chopped spinach and squeeze out any remaining water. Set aside.

  3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Cook the garlic and onion in the oil over medium heat until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

  4. Chop the canned mushrooms if desired and add them to the onion mixture. Sauté for 1 additional minute.

  5. Add the spinach to the onion mixture and sauté over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, turning the contents of the skillet with a spatula to help combine them. Remove from the heat and set aside.

  6. In a large bowl, place the tofu, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Mash well with a potato masher or fork.

  7. Add the contents of the skillet to the tofu mixture. Mix well, using your hands if necessary to combine the ingredients thoroughly.

  8. Oil a medium-sized rectangular baking pan or decorative casserole dish. Spoon two or three scoops of tomato sauce (about 1/2 cup) onto the bottom of the pan. Spread evenly.

  9. Fill each manicotti tube with some of the tofu mixture. Place the manicotti side by side in the baking dish and cover with the remaining tomato sauce. (If you have extra tofu mixture left over, you can mix some of it into the tomato sauce before pouring it over the top of the manicotti.)

  10. Sprinkle the tops of the manicotti lightly with soy Parmesan cheese.

  11. Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of baking time.

  12. Before serving, scatter chopped parsley and black olives over the top to garnish.

If manicotti tubes are not available, you can substitute cooked lasagna noodles. Spread the filling on noodles and roll them up instead of making filled tubes. You can also substitute chopped broccoli for the spinach if desired.

Per serving: Calories 277 (From Fat 81); Fat 9g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 755mg; Carbohydrate 28g (Dietary Fiber 4g); Protein 13g.