You guys, I really can’t believe this happened. But it did. And it is fantastic. I couldn’t think of a better day to publish this recipe than my birthday weekend! I celebrated my birthday on Friday July 10th but let’s keep the celebration going by sharing my paleo manicotti.
This recipe is a paleo recreation of my mother’s homemade manicotti. She usually makes this for Christmas dinner and we love it. My mom’s traditional homemade manicotti is made by making a simple crepe shell, roling it up with herbed ricotta and parmesan cheese, then covering it with sauce before baking (basically not paleo at all).
Manicotti shells sold in stores *cringe* aren’t even manicotti shells. They are cannelloni shells and they look like hollow tubes. You’re supposed to cook them and then pipe in the ricotta filling. I prefer the homemade shells made out of thin crepes because 1. that’s how Italian families make real manicotti 2. it’s lighter and less filling than store bought pasta. Let’s make them. Ready?
The recipe has 2 components that you can make ahead of time: cashew cheese and manicotti crepe shells. When you’re ready to assemble just add the cheese mixture to the crepe. Then wrap, add sauce, and bake in a casserole dish.
I know what you’re thinking… “Laura, cashew cheese is NOT ricotta cheese”. Well, yes, I know. But this is shockingly similar especially if you add melted ghee.
CREPE SHELL INGREDIENTS
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1 tbsp coconut flour
- 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
- pinch of sea salt
CREPE SHELL DIRECTIONS
- Whisk eggs and almond milk. Sift in dry ingredients and stir the batter to combine.
- Heat a small saucepan to medium high heat.
- Add 2 tbsp crepe mixture to the pan and immediately rotate the pan in a circular motion so the mixture shapes around the pan into a circle. Guiding it quickly with a spoon helps too. They should be thicker than your average crepe to be able to hold the ‘cheese’ and sauce.
- Cook for about 10 seconds on each side. You should be able to comfortably pick off the crepe without it breaking and flip over to the other side.
- Once cooled, wrap the bundle of crepe in plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to fill and bake.
“RICOTTA CHEESE” FILLING
- 2 cups cashews, soaked in water 5+ hours
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 cup preferred nut milk
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp fresh basil leaves
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley leaves
- 2.5 tbsp ghee (optional but strongly recommended)
“RICOTTA CHEESE” DIRECTIONS:
- First, soak cashews by adding the nuts to a bowl and cover all the way with water. About 5 hours. When soft, drain water.
- Add cashews to a food processor and pulse until crumbs form. It should be a bit pasty, too.
- Then add all other ingredients and blend until combined. Consistency should be like ricotta cheese. If it is too thick add more nut milk.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place 2 tbsp of the ‘ricotta’ filling in the middle of a crepe. Roll to secure it. Repeat until all crepes are full.
- Add a thin layer of sauce to the bottom of a casserole dish.
- Line the baking dish with the rolled manicotti. Do not overlap.
- Top with 1 cup of sauce.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Makes about 12 manicotti.
This keeps in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Simply add meat to your sauce for a balanced protein-rich meal. Otherwise a fresh garlic basil sauce is a great fit.
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