Vegan cannelloni, stuffed with green lentil ragout and topped with the cheesiest béchamel sauce of your life (it even browns!)
This vegan cannelloni recipe has been a long time coming. So long, in fact, that a select few of you have been HOUNDING my instagram with vague threats! But rest assured - the recipe is here, and you will NOT be disappointed. Allow me to talk you through what's going on here:
- First we have a layer of deliciously tangy and sweet green lentil ragout. Fragrant and zingy with a tiny kick of balsamic vinegar.
- Then we have a layer of cannelloni which is ALSO stuffed with the green lentil ragout. The lentils cook so beautifully in this zone that you'll swear they're minced beef.
- Final layer of this vegan cannelloni is the CHEESIEST béchamel sauce ever! It tastes rather similar to my vegan mozzarella recipe and it even has that stringiness. Oh! and if you like your top crispy, whack it under the grill and you'll get some stunning browning action!
As you might know, I was vegetarian since I was 6, so I've never actually tasted a true meaty cannelloni. I've had spinach and ricotta, and no shade to spinach and ricotta, but I wanted to make a plant-based version of the CHEESIEST most TOMATOEY comfort food pasta ever. It had to be this recipe - it was fate!
I remember going on holiday to Sorrento as a teenager with my family and struggling to come to terms with the fact that MOST of my favourite italian dishes were packed with meat and therefore were off limits. But now I'm a vegan WIZARD, I can take control of my destiny and MAKE THIS STUFF HAPPEN! So..
Here's how you make it happen!
I've made everything as simple as possible for this vegan cannelloni recipe, because what's the point in making comfort food if you need a power nap as soon as you take it out of the oven?? This dish is EASY PEASY, trust me.
I use tinned lentils AND tinned tomatoes which means no soaking, no boiling, no peeling/de-skinning, just crack out that tin opener and you're ready to go!
One thing I will stipulate: PLEASE use Italian peeled plum tomatoes - not chopped tomatoes. Oh and green lentils are the best for this recipe, but any lentils will do really!
What should I serve it with!?
My recommendation is to bite the bullet and go double carb with this! I served mine with some sourdough focaccia and a panzanella salad (which technically makes it TRIPLE carb!) - oh and a nice glass of vegan red wine!
Vegan Cannelloni - Super Cheesy!
For the Lentil Ragout
- ½ red onion ((diced))
- 1 clove garlic ((minced))
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 tin green lentils ((drained))
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon brown rice miso paste
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tins peeled plum tomatoes
- 2.5 tablespoon vegan bouillon powder
- 250 ml boiling water
For the Béchamel Sauce
- 50 g vegan butter
- 60 g plain flour
- 600 ml soy milk
- 3 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon marmite
- 100 g vegan cream cheese
For the Cheesy Topping
- 2 tablespoon tapioca starch
- 55 g soy milk
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 150 g cannelloni pasta
- pinch fresh parsley ((finely chopped))
To Make the Lentil Ragout
- Place a large saucepan or cast-iron dutch oven over a medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic and fry for two minutes. Add the smoked paprika, lentils, soy sauce, miso and balsamic vinegar and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add the tinned tomatoes, bouillon powder and boiling water. Stir to combine. Once the mixture reaches a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow to cook for 20 minutes, stirring often, or until nice and thick. While the sauce thickens, make the béchamel.
To Make the Béchamel
- Preheat the oven to 180c
- Place the vegan butter in a medium saucepan over medium/low heat. Allow the vegan butter to melt fully until it starts to bubble. Add the flour and stir to combine. Keep stirring to allow the flour to cook for around 30 seconds before adding a small drizzle of the milk and whisking vigarously until smooth. Add the rest of the milk in additions, whisking between each one to ensure the béchamel stays smooth.
- Once all the milk is added, add the remaining béchamel ingredients and whisk to combine. Whisking frequently, bring the béchamel to a gentle simmer so that bubbles are rising to the surface - keep whisking until the sauce is thick (around 10 minutes).
To Make the Cheesy Topping
- Using a ladle, remove around ¼ of the béchamel sauce from the pan and place in a small bowl. Separately, in another small bowl, whisk together the tapioca starch, soy milk, garlic powder and onion powder until smooth. Pour into the decanted ¼ of the béchamel sauce and whisk well to combine. Set aside.
- In a baking tray, place a thin layer of the lentil ragout. Using a teaspoon, fill the cannelloni tubes with the remaining ragout, one by one, and place in the tray. Once all the tubes are filled, pour any remaining ragout over the tubes (if you have any left).
- Pour the béchamel over the cannelloni, followed by the cheesy topping. The cheesy topping may have thickened a lot, so you may need to spoon it out, rather than pour.
- Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the cannelloni is soft but still holds its shape. If you'd like the top more brown and crispy, place under the grill/broiler for a few minutes before sprinkling with parsley and serving.