Italian pasta just how Nonna made it, but with a plant-based twist. That’s what this creamy vegan pesto cannelloni recipe is all about, but with some modern tweaks.
Not everybody has the time or inclination to make homemade sauces, so there’s an option to use ready-made alternatives here. If, however, you’re in the mood for some slower cooking or want to stretch your culinary skills a little further, the recipe for a beautiful vegan béchamel is included below.
One thing you don’t want to scrimp on is the vegan mince that you use. Pick a product that you have used before and enjoyed, both taste and texture-wise. Equally, if you prefer to use lentils in place of mince (as many whole-food vegans do), feel free to try that here as well.
- 1 onion (finely diced)
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped)
- 1 large carrot (finely diced)
- 1 courgette (finely diced)
- 200 g mushrooms (finely diced)
- 500 g vegan mince
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 150 ml vegan red wine
- 800 g tinned chopped tomatoes
- 8 tsp vegan stock powder
- 1 tbsp maple syrup (or agave)
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- You can use lasagne sheets if you prefer (layer in the usual way)
- 16 approx. tubes dry cannelloni
- If you’d like to cheat at this stage then use 500g vegan white sauce/ Béchamel
- 4 tbsp vegan spread
- 4 tbsp plain flour
- 500 ml unsweetened soya milk
- 2 tsp Dijon or English mustard
- ½ tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- 190 g approx. vegan pesto or homemade pesto
- Option to add cheese (choose your favorite melting variety)
- 200 g Greek Style (grated or sliced)
- 5 tbsp Parmesan Alternative
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4.
- In a large wok or saucepan, fry the onion in a little oil until lightly golden.
- Add the courgette, carrot and mushrooms and fry for a further 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the garlic and fry for a further minute.
- Stir in the tomato puree, red wine, tinned tomatoes, syrup (or sugar) and stock. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for around 20 minutes. Set aside and leave to cool slightly.
- Using a medium saucepan, melt the spread on a low heat.
- Take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the flour until you have a paste.
- Return the pan to the heat, turn up to medium and very gradually add the soya milk, stirring continuously to avoid lumps.
- Once the sauce has thickened, add the mustard, nutmeg and optional extras. Use a balloon whisk to get rid of lumps if necessary.
- Try the sauce and add salt to your taste. Stir through the pesto (bought or homemade). Set aside.
- Using a baking tray (12″x10″x2″ approx.), pour half of the bechamel and spread evenly accross the bottom of the tray.
- Stuff the cannelloni with the mince mixture using a teaspoon and line them up over the bechamel layer until the tray is completely covered.
- If you have any leftover mince then add another layer over the cannelloni tubes. The rest you can freeze to make a spag bol.
- Pour the remaining bechamel over the top and spread evenly. Top off with the cheese of your choice.
- Cover the top of the dish in foil and place in the oven.
- Cook for 30 minutes, remove the foil and place back in the oven for another 15 minutes.
- Serve with fresh basil, toasted pine nuts, garlic bread and salad. Enjoy