Zucchini marinara, as all of you know, is a staple in my home. It’s a simple recipe: zucchini ribbons, mixed with fresh raw marinara sauce, chunks of creamy avocado, and fresh herbs. I keep raw marinara in my freezer at all times, which makes it easy for me to prepare this simple bowl at a moment’s notice. Lately, I’ve been trying to give a little more attention to other forms of raw “pasta.” Next week, I’ll be sharing a new recipe with zucchini tagliatelle, and today I’m here with a little how-to for zucchini manicotti. This dish looks incredibly beautiful, but if you prepare your cashew cheese and marinara ahead of time, it’s actually one of the easiest raw centerpiece dishes you can make.
To begin preparing this dish, you’ll want to follow the instructions given in my zucchini tagliatelle tutorial: use a mandolin or a peeler to shave long, very thin strips of zucchini. But unlike the tagliatelle, don’t cut those strips in half. Lay three of the strips on a flat, clean surface, overlapping slightly, like so:
Place about 2-3 tablespoons of basic cashew cheese (recipe below) toward one end of the strips.
Roll up, starting from the side closest to the cashew cheese.
Tuck the loose ends on the bottom of your manicotti roll underneath it.
So, so pretty!
Here’s the complete recipe:
- 1 large zucchini or summer squash
- 1½ cups cashews, soaked overnight and drained of soak water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- Sea salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 very large red or yellow bell pepper, deseeded
- ¾ cup cherry or roma tomatoes
- ¼ cup sundried tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Generous sprinkle dried thyme
- Generous sprinkle dried oregano
- ¼ cup basil
- 2 pitted dates
- 1. To make the pasta, slice zucchini into long, flat, and thin strips using a vegetable peeler or mandolin (see instructions in this post).
- 2. Place the cashews, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast in a food processor fitted with the S blade. Pulse a few times. Turn the motor on and drizzle in water until you have a very smooth, but still thick and spreadable texture (about ⅓-1/2 cup of water). It should take a full minute or two. Stop a few times to scrape the bowl down as you go. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- 3. Blend the pepper, tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, olive oil, salt, thyme, oregano, basil, and dates in a high speed blender till thick and smooth.
- 4. Follow the instructions above to assemble the manicotti. Top each roll raw marinara. Sprinkle with basil, if desired, and serve.
You can flavor the cashew cheese you use with sundried tomatoes, herbs, or spices to change the flavor of the manicotti. Pesto or cashew cream will also make very good toppings!
This dish certainly turns out best when you use seasonal ingredients. If you’re still enjoying fresh tomatoes or zucchini where you are, now’s the time to make it! But I must confess that I like the dish so much I’ve made it through all seasons. It makes an elegant appetizer for entertaining, or a lovely centerpiece, so long as you serve it with a bountiful salad, legumes, roast veggies, or other delicious accompaniments of your choosing.