14 September 2019

Vegan Spinach & Tofu Ricotta Cannelloni

Cannelloni was one of my favourites pre-vegan (as was almost every other pasta dish!) and it's something I was yet to try and veganize. It may take a little patience, but it's completely worth it! A creamy spinach and tofu ricotta filling, encased in pasta tubes, smothered in rich tomato sauce, sprinkled with cheese and baked to perfection!

I've gotten into a habit recently of batch cooking on a Sunday afternoon, it means you have food prepped for the first few days of the week and something to look forward to on a Monday lunchtime or after a long day's work. This dish also freezes really well, so can be enjoyed at another time when you're super busy - simply divide into portions, freeze and reheat straight from frozen in the oven or microwave!

There are a few different substitutes that could work as 'ricotta', such as ground almonds, vegan cream cheese or tofu; I chose tofu for its versatility and nutritional value, but the previous may create a more luxurious feel with the higher fat content. Tofu is rich in protein, calcium, magnesium and iron, whilst being relatively low in fat and calories, perfect for a balanced, weeknight meal! It's flavoured with white miso, nutritional yeast, mustard, lemon juice and a good sprinkling of salt for that cheesy flavour, then mixed with chopped spinach and toasted pinenuts. 

The sauce is a chopped tomato, passata and herb sauce, which contains a fair amount of iron and vitamin C, the latter of which helps to boost iron absorption. Whilst fresh tomatoes aren't a great source of iron, when concentrated into passata, tomato puree etc they actually contain a good amount of that all-important nutrient for our red blood cell production and energy levels. 

I stuffed the tubes using a teaspoon and pushing the filling down, to ensure that you could do this recipe even without piping skills. But if you're handy with a piping bag, you could also use a wide nozzle and fill the pasta this way. Simply layer 1/3 of the tomato sauce, then top with the filled pasta, pour over the remaining tomato sauce, sprinkle with vegan cheese and bake for about 35 minutes. The recipe feeds 4-6 depending on your portion size and whether you have any sides with the cannelloni - I found a simple dressed salad was a great accompaniment, but garlic bread or tenderstem broccoli would be great too!

Vegan Spinach & Tofu Ricotta Cannelloni | Serves: 4-6 | Time: 1hr, 10 mins 

You'll need

  • Sauté pan
  • Large saucepan
  • Wooden spoons
  • Chopping board
  • Knife
  • Measuring spoons
  • Large baking dish (enough for each pasta piece to lay flat)
  • Bowl
  • Potato masher
  • Piping bag or teaspoon


  • 250g dried cannelloni tubes 
  • 1/2 cup vegan cheese, grated
Tomato sauce:
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 500g passata
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
  • Good pinch salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
Tofu ricotta filling:
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 500g frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 block firm tofu
  • 2 tsp white miso
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Juice 1/2 lemon
  • Shaving nutmeg
  • Generous pinch salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup toasted pinenuts 


  1. Put the sauté and saucepan on the heat, once hot, drizzle in a little olive oil into each. Peel and dice a large onion and put half in each pan and cook on a medium until golden and caramelised, about 10 minutes. 
  2. Once caramelised, crush two cloves of garlic and add to the saucepan, cook for a few minutes then add in the chopped tomatoes, passata, dried herbs, a good pinch of salt and black pepper. Put the lid on and simmer for 15 minutes. Then remove from the heat and stir in the fresh basil and adjust seasoning as required. 
  3. Add the frozen spinach to the sauté pan, put the lid on for 5 minutes and allow it to thaw. Then remove the lid and cook for a few more minutes until the liquid has evaporated and the spinach is fully thawed. Mash the tofu well in a bowl, using a potato masher or fork and then add into the spinach pan, along with the miso, mustard, lemon juice, nutmeg, salt to taste and black pepper, stir together and cook for 5 minutes. Then stir in the nutritional yeast and toasted pinenuts and remove from the heat.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C. 
  5. Spoon 1/3 of the sauce into a large baking dish and then begin to stuff the cannelloni. Whether you're using a teaspoon or a piping bag to stuff the cannelloni your approach will be similar; simply fill each piece from one side until the filling reaches the middle, then turn it around and repeat with the other side. Ensure the filling is tightly packed in and it won't fall out the other side. Place the cannelloni in the baking dish on the tomato sauce and repeat with the rest of the batch, each piece should be laying flat in the dish. Once you have a flat layer of stuffed cannelloni, top with the remaining tomato sauce and sprinkle over the vegan cheese. 
  6. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, serve up and enjoy! 
  7. Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days, or portion out into tupperware and freeze. To reheat, cook straight from frozen in the oven or microwave in a suitable dish until piping hot! 

Cassidy xx