Anyone who likes pasta will love this Simple Stuffed Pumpkin Manicotti dish! This isn’t one of those dishes where you have to announce, “Look out! It’s vegan!” or “I know you don’t like these veggies, but they’re in there.” I know I’ve made a winner when the ingredients have become united in yumminess and while still being full of nutrition. This is the perfect recipe for picky eaters. Let’s get our vitamin A on with pumpkins!
Every week my husband and I have a “date day.” It’s become one of my favorite adventures to look forward to every week. We’ve done everything from going to the beach, botanical gardens, hiking, movie marathons, museums, Koreatown…you name it! It’s really helped us to explore LA and get acquainted. This time it was also a great excuse to get some fresh pumpkins for my October recipes.
We decided to go to Underwood Farms in Moorpark, CA for their Fall Festival and got a bunch of sugar pumpkins for $2 a piece. One pumpkin gives me an awesome pumpkin seed snack for my husband, a roasted pumpkin salad lunch, and dinner for 2 nights. I’m down with this great value! Or you can use canned pumpkin when you just need to get dinner on the table.
I love how pumpkin with savory fresh basil warms up this dish with a subtle sweetness, but I admit, pumpkin in Italian food will always be one of my favorites. I also love that this recipe has 5 vegetables in it, but you’d never know it. They add so much depth without being too strong. In this recipe, you are getting vitamins A, B, a little C (heat sensitive), E, iron, magnesium, calcium, selenium, beta-carotene, protein, fiber, etc. It’s a whole meal in one, no sides needed! Though, if your family eats salad, this would go perfectly with a nice spinach salad and a nice balsamic dressing.
Some notes from the kitchen
The ingredients: This dish is really easy to make, so don’t be scared by all the ingredients. The ingredients are purely to add nutrition and flavor. Don’t want to add spinach? Don’t worry about it. Add something else…whatever is in your fridge! Seriously, I change this recipe up all the time. Last time I did kale. Once it’s in the oven all the flavors infuse really nicely. Just don’t use celery…don’t know how that would go.
The noodles: Don’t be afraid to experiment with whatever your healthy choice is! My favorite is going traditional with noodles. I like rolling up my Delallo noodles, because I prefer the ingredients, by soaking them in hot water for about 10 minutes. You can also usually get full sheets of fresh noodles at a nice market.
During my first experiment, I tried spring roll wrappers, but wasn’t really sold on it. The ones that turned out the best had a layer of cheese that turned into its own shell. I could actually peel the rice layer away and still have a manicotti shape.
Lastly, I ♥love♥ using veggies as wrappers. If the rest of my family liked veggies as much as I do, I would’ve done this in collard greens or thinly sliced zucchini.
The Blender: When you are making the filling, remember you are going for a ricotta cheese/cottage cheese texture. I usually blend up my veggies first so you don’t have a veggie texture, then throw everything in and pulse. But, there is no “wrong” way to do this. Just remember the more pureed, the less volume/height your manicotti will have. Alternately, if you like dairy, skip the tofu and use ricotta cheese.
My only complaint about this dish is how hard it was to photograph! Maybe it’s because I was making it around dinner time, but I think it was the delicious cheese enveloping the pan. Every spoonful of this Simple Stuffed Pumpkin Manicotti is delicious!
- Pasta wrapper of choice: collard greens, lasagna sheets, zucchini strips, etc.
- about 26 oz. garlic pasta sauce
- 1/4 onion
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 cup spinach leaves
- 1/3 cup frozen peas
- 2 tbsp-1/4 cup carrots or broccoli
- 1/4 cup of filling (stir in after)
- 1/4 cup soaked cashews (this makes it more cheesy, but you can omit)
- 8 oz. can pumpkin (or 8 oz fresh chunks...about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 tbsp fresh basil
- 2 tsp parsley, dried
- 1 tsp oregano, dried
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp sage, dried
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 1/2 tsp himalayan sea salt
- 12-16 oz sprouted tofu (depends how chunky you like your filling)
- 1 cup grated mozzarella (1/2 cup for the filling + 1/2 cup for the top or to taste)
- Marinara Sauce
- 1/2 cup mozarella
- vegan parmesan
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- In a pot, add all the sauce ingredients, cover the bottom with about an inch of water, bring to a boil, simmer until ready for step 5 (you can skip this step if you like veggies and texture doesn't bother you)
- While boiling, In a food processor or high speed blender, combine all the blended filling ingredients and puree
- Crumble the tofu in a large bowl and add all but 1/4 of the puree
- Take the pot with all the veggies, drain, and transfer to the food processor or blender, add the rest of the sauce ingredients and blend until smooth (I do the smoothie function on the Vitamix)
- In an 11 x 17 baking dish, pour enough sauce to cover the bottom
- Take each shell and prepare according to the directions (boiled,etc.) then stuff with filling, top with sauce and mozzarella
- Roll the shell up and set in pan
- Top with sauce and mozzarella
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.