I know what you are thinking….cannelloni that’s grain, gluten and dairy free? Seriously Carmen, who are you kidding! I will admit, I too was skeptical about creating a healthy cannelloni recipe, but this dish turned out to be so good!
Noodles are replaced with thinly sliced eggplant, which are perfectly tender and firmly contain the filling. The spinach & basil filling is so tasty, I couldn’t help but eat it by the spoonful. It’s smooth and creamy, just like traditional ricotta, with hints of lemon, garlic and basil. I added in raw spinach to increase the iron and protein and to make the filling a more vibrant green. I think the spinach could be substituted for more basil or even kale.
I topped the cannelloni with a quick and easy tomato sauce but feel free to use any tomato sauce you have on hand. You can prepare the filling, tomato sauce and grill the eggplant up to a day in advance and assemble everything and bake prior to eating. These eggplant cannelloni are also great as left overs and will last 3-4 days (SA has had it every night for the past 4 days and he HATES leftovers). I hope you enjoy!
- 2 cups cashews, soaked for minimum 4 hours
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ cup almond milk
- ½ cup basil
- ¾ cup spinach
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 Eggplant
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp honey or other sweetener (optional)
- salt & pepper
- 2 tbsp chopped basil
- 2 tbsp grated parmesan (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 175 degrees celsius
- Drain the soaked cashews and place them in a blender or food processor with the garlic, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and almond milk. Blend until the cashews have broken down into a creamy consistency. Add in the spinach and basil and continue to blend until completely smooth. Season with salt and pepper and set aside (this can be made up to a day in advance)
- Cut the eggplant lengthwise into ¼ to ½ inch thick slices. Lightly salt each side and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes to remove excess moisture. After 15 minutes wipe the eggplant with paper towels to remove the salt.
- The eggplant can be grilled for 2-3 minutes per side on a well oiled grill or baked in the oven for 15 minutes at 200 degrees celsius. Once cooked remove and set aside
- To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a pot on medium heat and add the garlic. Allow to cook until soft before adding in the can of chopped tomatoes and sweetener. Let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes until it begins to thicken. Season with salt and pepper and pour a small amount of the sauce into the bottom of a baking dish.
- Place about 2-3 spoonfuls of the spinach and basil mixture onto the end of each slice of eggplant and roll tightly, placing them seam side down on top of the sauce in the baking dish.
- Pour the remainder of the sauce overtop the rolls and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Serve straight from the oven sprinkled with parmesan and chopped basil.