Yield: 5 servings | Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes | Total time: 1 hour
The holidays always remind me of Italian food. Delicious... labor intensive... Italian food. Reduce some of that labor by using Hungry Planet Italian Sausage™ Crumbles! They go perfectly in this dish, both in the tofu ricotta mixture and in the red sauce topping. Plus they're pre-cooked so all you have to do is defrost them! No more worrying about cooking raw sausage all the way through or fretting about raw meat contamination.
Hungry Planet plant-based meats are truly nutritious, featuring fewer calories, less fat, no saturated fat, and no unnecessary ingredients. The sausage crumbles are especially one of my favorites; they're so easy to add to any recipe and will turn your boring jarred pasta sauce into a deliciously meaty meal. Hungry Planet also offers other easy-to-cook-with plant-based meats like grilled chicken strips, Thai meatballs, Italian sausage meatballs, and more. Find them in the freezer section at your local Sprouts Market and Shop Hungry!
1 box (8 oz) of manicotti noodles
1 package (8 oz) of Hungry Planet Italian Sausage™ Crumbles
1 tbsp cooking oil (grapeseed or canola)
1 block (14 oz) of firm tofu
3 tbsp vegan cream cheese
1/2 cup vegan mozzarella cheese, divided in half
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large handfuls of fresh baby spinach (or 1/2 cup of frozen spinach)
1 jar (25 oz) red pasta sauce
Lightly grease a 9x13, 3" deep pan or glass baking dish and set aside.
Start by boiling the noodles.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Carefully add the entire box of manicotti noodles.
Boil the noodles according to the "al dente" instructions on the box, usually for about 7 minutes.
Once they are cooked, turn off the heat and carefully remove the noodles from the water. Lay each noodle out on a fresh towel to dry, making sure they are not touching each other.
While the noodles are boiling, prepare the sausage crumbles.
In a medium sized bowl, add the entire jar of red sauce. Set aside.
Heat a medium sized frying pan on the stove over medium heat.
Add 1 tbsp of oil to the pan.
Add the entire bag of Hungry Planet sausage crumbles to the pan and quickly mix to coat the crumbles in the oil.
Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2-3 minutes or until the sausage crumbles are just defrosted (do not overcook since they will be baked in the oven).
Remove half of the sausage crumbles and add them to the bowl with the red sauce. Mix and set aside.
Add the spinach to the frying pan with the other half of the sausage crumbles and cook until the spinach has wilted (or defrosted if you're using frozen).
Remove the sausage/spinach mixture from heat and set aside.
Next, prepare the tofu ricotta filling.
Remove the tofu from the package and gently press it with a kitchen towel to remove some of the excess moisture.
Place the tofu in a large mixing bowl and use the back of a fork to break it up into fluffy crumbles.
Add the cream cheese, 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese, oregano, garlic powder, and salt to the tofu and mix until everything is evenly combined.
Gently fold in the entire sausage/spinach mixture to the bowl with the tofu.
Now that you have the boiled manicotti noodles, ricotta sausage mixture, and sausage red sauce done, it's time to stuff the manicotti.
Preheat your oven to 350° F.
Using a small spoon, fill each manicotti noodle with the tofu mixture. Try to fill about 10-12 noodles (you need less filling per noodle than you think, maybe about 2.5-3 tbsp per noodle).
Place the filled manicotti noodles in the greased baking dish.
Once all the manicotti noodles are stuffed, top them evenly with the sausage red sauce mixture.
Sprinkle the other 1/4 cup of mozzarella shreds on top of the red sauce.
Cover the dish with tin foil and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted.
Remove from the oven, uncover, and let it cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
Top with some fresh basil leaves or oregano for a garnish.
Tips and Tricks:
The Hungry Planet sausage crumbles can also be defrosted in the microwave! Simply microwave them on high for about 1 minute, then mix in the roughly chopped spinach and microwave for another minute or until the spinach is wilted (or defrosted).
Store any leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 7 days.
Reheat leftovers in the microwave for 2 minutes or until the manicotti noodles are warmed through. Top with extra red sauce and cheese if desired.
Nutrition & Servings: (calculated by MyFitnessPal)
Servings: 2 manicotti noodles (yields about 5 servings)
Total Fat: 21g
^ Nutrition facts include the ingredients listed above. Nutrition facts may change slightly if different quantities of ingredients are used or added.