This Italian classic has been given a wholefood plant-based makeover. The dish is perfect for a dinner party, a herby tofu ricotta filled zucchini cannelloni; paired with an earthy tart tomato and red pepper puree, garnished with salty black olives and crispy kale; it has many elements that can be prepared, separately, ahead of time. Using zucchini instead of traditional pasta, not only adds more vegetables to your diet, it also makes this dish gluten free.
Zucchini Cannelloni with Herby Tofu Ricotta
- 6 medium zucchini ( 110 – 140gm / 4 – 5oz )
- Tofu Ricotta
- ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
- ¼ cup finely chopped chives
- sea salt and ground white pepper
Tomato and Red Pepper Puree
- 1 cup tomato passata
- 1 roasted red pepper, no-oil variety if using jarred
- ¼ cup red split lentils
- ½ medium onion, finely diced
- ½ cup hot vegetable stock
- sea salt and finely ground black pepper
- ¼ cup finely chopped black olives
- 1 cup baby kale leaves
You’re going to need one recipe of the Tofu Ricotta, this can be made up to five days ahead and stored in the fridge until needed. To make it into the Herby Tofu Ricotta, add finely chopped parsley and chives. Mix and taste. Adjust the flavour to suit your palate.
To make the Tomato & Red Pepper Puree. Put the red lentils into a small bowl, then pour hot vegetable stock over them and set the bowl aside for 10-15 minutes.
The lentils will absorb some stock, this step is not vital but it will stop them absorbing too much moisture from the passata and they will cook more quickly.
Drain the red lentils keeping any remaining vegetable stock to sauté the onion.
If you’re not familiar with the “no-oil sauté method” read this guide to show you how to sauté the onion.
Add sautéed onions, passata, diced red pepper and the soaked red lentils into a pot along with any leftover vegetable stock. Simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the lentils are soft, you might need to add more stock if it is too thick. Blend into a smooth puree. Season to taste.
To make the Zucchini Cannelloni, wash the zucchini. Trim the ends. Cut each into 2 or 3 even sized pieces. Use an apple-corer or long-bladed vegetable peeler to remove the centre of each piece of zucchini, making them into cannelloni-like tubes.
Fill each zucchini cannelloni with the herby ricotta mixture. Line a casserole dish with baking paper and stand the zucchini cannelloni upright with space between them. Place the casserole dish in the middle of the oven and bake at 180ºC/350ºF for 30-40 minutes.
If the tops of your cannelloni filling start to colour too much, place a baking sheet on the oven rack above them.
Trim the stems of the baby kale leaves and rinse with water, shake off any excess water. Put the wet baby kale leaves onto a baking sheet in the oven for 4–6 minutes or until they are crispy.
Swirl a spoonful of tomato & red pepper puree on a warm plate before placing three zucchini cannelloni in the centre. Scatter the crispy baby kale leaves around them, finish with a sprinkling of chopped black olives.
For a family feast, lay the zuchinni cannelloni tubes in a casserole dish. Cover with your favourite pasta sauce, bake at 180ºC/350ºF for 30-40 minutes. Sprinkle with plant-based parmesan before serving.