This recipe was inspired by one I saw in Living Cuisine, a wonderful uncook book by Renee Underkoffler. It’s a beautiful book with really delicious, well-balanced recipes. I definitely recommend it (here’s the link to buy it if you’re in SA, or if you’re elsewhere: Living Cuisine: The Art and Spirit of Raw Foods (Avery Health Guides)). I tweaked the recipe quite a bit, so I think it’s safe to post my version here. Be aware that this one takes some time, but it’s worth it.
The manicotti are made with thinly sliced, marinated, dehydrated brinjals/ eggplants/ aubergines. These tend to be bitter, so I used the thin Japanese ones– I find they work much better when you’re eating them raw. If you’re in Johannesburg, you can get these in Cyrildene. For the rest of the world, hit your local Asian market.
The dessert was yet another in my series of nut-free raw desserts. Since the mangoes are so beautiful at the moment, it had to be mango.
Manicotti with spinach-ricotta filling (serves 4)
1-2 Japanese eggplants (brinjals, aubergines)
juice of 1 lemon, separated (use half for brinjal marinade, half for spinach)
1 batch macadamia ricotta (recipe here, I’d increase the water to 1/2 cup at least)
1 bunch spinach, washed and de-stemmed
1 batch marinara sauce (recipe here)
Instructions: First, peel the brinjal and slice into very thin slices (I recommend using a mandoline for this). If they’re very long, I recommend slicing them in half. The idea is to have them all about the same length (approx 6 inches/ 15 centimetres). Salt the slices and let sit 30 minutes to an hour so the bitter juice comes out. Gently press the slices to drain the juice.
Next mix olive oil, lemon juice and salt in a shallow dish to make a marinade. Place your brinjal slices in the dish and allow to marinate 1-2 hours.
Place the marinated slices on teflex sheets and dehydrate 1-2 hours, just to soften them a bit further.
While the brinjal is dehydrating, chop up the spinach as tiny as possible. I used a food processor- just be careful you don’t puree it. Stir a little bit of olive oil, lemon juice and salt into the spinach. Let this sit for an hour or so, then stir the spinach into the macadamia ricotta so you have a nice green-flecked cheese.
Once the brinjal is ready, lay out a couple of slices next to each other, overlapping slightly. I used three slices. Place some of the spinach-ricotta filling at one end, like so.
Then gently roll up the manicotti, beginning with the end where the filling is. In the end, it will look like this.
Top the manicotti with the fresh tomato sauce, and enjoy with a side of spinach. Yum!
Mango mousse pie (makes 1 pie) nut-free!
For the nut-free crust:
10 pitted dates
1 heaping cup of shredded coconut
pinch of salt
1 tsp (or more as desired) ground flax seed
Instructions: Process dates in food processor until broken up. Add coconut and salt and process until a dough forms. Add flax and process until combined. Press into the bottom of a pie tin and let set in refrigerator or freezer while you make the filling.
For the filling:
3 mangoes, peeled and chopped
1 oz of soaked Irish moss (dry weight after soaking), blended with 1/2 cup water to make a paste
1/2 tsp fresh vanilla powder
pinch of Himalayan salt
1 tsp lemon juice
2 Tb agave
1 Tb coconut oil
Instructions: Blend mangoes and Irish moss paste in blender until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Taste for sweetness (add more agave or lemon juice, as needed). Pour filling into prepared crust and set in freezer, at least one hour. Defrost before serving.
For those wondering what to do if you don’t have Irish moss (and that would be most of my SA readers), you can just increase the amount of coconut oil substantially– maybe to a 1/2 cup or so– and that should set the cake.