Boil water and cook 12 manicotti shells according to al dente' package directions (be sure and salt the water!). Place cooked manicotti shells in a bowl/pot of cool water to keep them from sticking together (or cooking further) while you prepare the filling.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Sauté diced onion and minced garlic over low heat until onions are soft and clear.
Prepare the filling: Drain the water from your tofu block and gently squeeze to remove any excess moisture. Crumble it with your fingers or a fork. Add softened vegan cream cheese (or sub vegan mayo). Add spices, nutritional yeast, and salt and mix well.
Now add sautéed onion and garlic, chopped fresh spinach and 3/4 cup grated vegan cheese and mix until combined.
Coat bottom of 9 X 11 baking dish with 2 1/2 cups of pasta sauce.
Using a tablespoon or your fingers, fill each manicotti shell with approximately 3-4 tablespoons of tofu-ricotta mixture. Place each manicotti in the bed of sauce. When all the manicotti shells are filled, pour remaining pasta sauce over, sprinkle with any leftover filling mixture and top with 1/4 cup vegan cheese shreds.
Cover securely with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Garnish with chopped fresh basil or parsley if you like and serve!
Make ahead tips and storage of vegan manicotti:
If you would like to make vegan manicotti ahead of time, just go ahead and assemble everything, just don't bake it! Instead, cover your dish with plastic wrap or lid and place in the refrigerator for up to two days. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking or increase bake time by a few minutes as needed. Be sure to remove the plastic wrap and replace with a foil covering before baking!You can also freeze this manicotti prior to baking for a ready made meal down the road! (up to two months).Once baked, vegan manicotti lasts in the refrigerator for up to five days. I often freeze any leftovers in individual sized portions for easy work lunches!
Let's talk about cheese:
Everyone always wants to know what kind of vegan cheese is best! In these photos I used some of the new Daiya 'board collection' style shreds. Honestly, not my fave. They melted pretty well, but just didn't have the right flavor. I like their shreddable block cheeses better. At any rate, the family still loved it and didn't even seem to notice.When I have just a bit more time, my preference is to make my own Vegan Mozzarella. It melts, slices, and grates, and has absolutely delicious flavor. I might be a bit biased, but if you check out the reviews, my readers tend to agree!