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Vegan Cannelloni with Spinach and Leeks

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Vegan Cannelloni with Spinach and Leeks.
In our house we barely make pasta. My daughter Alithea doesn't like it and neither does my partner. I usually only make pasta when my daughter's friend's come over and are less used to vegetarian or vegan dishes.
I became a vegetarian as soon as I left my house at the age of 17, because now I could. Growing up in Greece during the 80's vegetarianism was unheard of and my mother used to tell me that I wouldn't grow up if I didn't eat meat! Fast forward all these years, my love for cooking has given me the opportunity to take traditional classic dishes and convert  them to vegan or vegetarian options without losing any of the flavor!

Today, we are making Vegan Cannelloni with Spinach and Leeks. You can also substitute Cannelloni's for Lasagne sheets and make a delicious Vegan Lasagne. The recipe is versatile and you can also use Gluten -free pasta to make it even healthier! This recipe was inspired by my greek background and my Vegan Spanakopita which is a total winner. Nevertheless, this recipe is your go to comfort food healthy meal that is creamy, comforting and absolutely delicious.
Here's is what you need:
1 Box of Cannelloni
2 Leeks (chopped fine)
1 Bag of Baby Spinach
3 cups Cashews (soaked for at least an hour)
1/2 piece of Tofu Block ( I like the creamier style of Tofu for this recipe, but not siky)
2 Tbs of Artichoke spread This will add the saltiness that the "cheese" usually gives and extra flavor). If you can't artichoke spread you can use your favorite Vegan cheese instead or even brewer's yeast.
You can substitute the artichoke spread with your favorite Vegan cheese. You will need at least a cup.
1/2 cup Rice Milk (unsweetened) (optional, you can also use water only)
1/2 cup each of Parsley, Coriander or Basil  (This is optional if you want your Spinach to be the star, leave it out)
Salt and Pepper according to taste
First begin by stir frying your leeks in 3 tablespoons of Olive Oil, with some salt and black pepper.  When the leeks are glossy add your Baby Spinach and cook for 5-7 minutes  or just until the spinach has broken down a bit.
In the meantime, In a high powered blender add your soaked cashews, tofu and artichoke spread or vegan cheese plus very little water or rice milk. Add just enough liquid to get the blending going. You don't want to add too much liquid because you want the cream to be thick and creamy and not runny.
Taste for salt and pepper and add more if needed.
Take only 3/4 of the Cashew cream and place it in the pan with the Spinach. Cook for 1-2 minutes on medium heat or until everything is well combined. Place your mixture in a bakers bag and fill your cannelloni while placing each filled tube in a baking pan lined with baking paper.
Next step is to blend the rest of the cream that is left in your blender with your fresh herb (optional). Here you will need to add a bit more water or rice milk and some vegan cheese and turn it into a liquid consistency that resembles maple syrup..  Add more olive oil, salt and pepper to bring it into balance. Remove 1 cup and place aside and then pour the rest of your sauce over the Cannelloni until fully covered.
Important: Make sure you keep another 3/4 of this creamy recipe aside to use at then end of your cooking.
Before placing your pan the oven, I recommend covering the Cannelloni with more baking paper and allowing them to sit for at least 20 minutes on the counter before placing them in the oven.
Bake for 45 minutes at 190 degrees Celsius (Around 400F)
Last few minutes, pour reserved cream over the Cannelloni and bake for another few minutes.
You can grate some lemon peel on top if you wish or give a squeeze of lemon before serving.


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