clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Tablescape of Vegan Manicotti Stuffed with Cauliflower Cream and Spinach

Vegan Manicotti Stuffed with Cauliflower Cream and Spinach

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star No reviews
  • Author: Monkey and Me Kitchen Adventures
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 5-7 Servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Italian


Cauliflower is that delicious, nutritious, and versatile vegetable that we just want to put in eve-ry-thing! We have an amazing comfort food that just transforms cauliflower to a whole nuther level, let us introduce you to our Vegan Manicotti Stuffed with Cauliflower Cream and Spinach. Perfectly creamy cauliflower, protein-packed beans, wholesome spinach, and aromatic Italian spices create a fabulous filling for delicious manicotti. An ultimate Italian comfort food that is sure to put a smile on your face. Grab a dish and get ready to dive into this cozy, satisfying meal. Whole Food Plant Based, Vegan, plant based, oil free, refined sugar free, no highly processed ingredients and gluten free.


  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons flour (gluten free or flour of choice)
  • 1 cup unsweetened plain plant milk
  • ¼ cup vegetable broth *
  • 1 – [ 15.5 oz. ] can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • ½ medium-sized cauliflower, cut into florets, riced, steamed *
  • 1 ½ cups fresh baby spinach, chopped (optional)
  • 1 – [ 7 oz. box ]  manicotti shells *
  • 2 – [ 24 oz. jars ] marinara sauce *

Spice/Herb Ingredients: 

  • 2 Tablespoons dried minced onions
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley (or 2 Tablespoons fresh)
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon dried crushed thyme leaves *
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt (+/-) *
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Optional Toppings:

  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Italian microgreens
  • Vegan Parmesan Cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. Fill a large stock pot full of water. Add some sea salt to the water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower until ready to add the pasta.
  3. In a large ceramic/enamel lined Dutch oven/pot or similarly large stockpot, add the diced onion. Sauté over medium-high heat for 5 to 7 minutes until the onions are tender.  (If needed to prevent sticking, add a splash of vegetable broth or water).
  4. Add the minced garlic and sauté for 30 seconds to one minute.
  5. Then sprinkle the flour over the onions and garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Add the vegetable broth and plant milk, increase the heat to a boil, then immediately lower to a simmer.
  7. Add the Spice/Herb mix, nutritional yeast, and cannelloni beans. Stir to combine.
  8. Add the fresh/raw cauliflower florets to a food processor and process to create a rice like texture. You may have to do this in batches. Place the riced cauliflower into a large bowl and microwave on high for 5 minutes (or steam in a fine-sleeved mesh container).  Dump the cooked, riced cauliflower into a clean dish towel and then squeeze out as much water as you can. Be careful, it’s hot! Place the cauliflower into the pot, stir, and cook for 5 minutes.  This mixture should be thick.
  9. Remove the pot from the stove to slightly cool, then process the mixture in a food processor until thick and creamy. Return the mixture to the pot and fold in the chopped baby spinach and remove from the stove to cool.  See recipe notes.
  10. Add the pasta (manicotti or giant shells) to the boiling water and boil based upon package directions, do NOT overcook, then carefully remove from the boiling water and then briefly run cold water over them, shake off any excess water, set aside until ready to use.
  11. Place a bowl on the counter, then take a gallon freezer bag or pastry bag, and place it in the bowl (the bowl is used to steady the bag), folding the open flaps of the bag over the edge of the bowl to create an opening. Then with one of the bottom edges facing downward, place about 1/3 to ½ of the cauliflower mixture into the bag. Do not place the entire mixture in the bag as it will be too hard to control and pipe. Squeeze the air out and push the mixture firmly to the bottom corner. Snip off about ½ inch of the corner with scissors to create a piping bag.  Then pipe the mixture into manicotti tubes or shell pasta. Refill the bag with the remaining mixture and continue pipping until all the mixture has been piped. Depending on the size of your manicotti shells, you may have some remaining pasta shells left over.
  12. Place 2 cups of marinara sauce in the bottom of a casserole pan; spread it out evenly, then place the filled manicotti (or shells) on top of the sauce. Once all the pasta has been filled, then place the remaining marinara sauce (from ONE of the 24 oz. jars of marinara sauce) on top of the pasta.  The other jar of marinara sauce is used as extra sauce for serving (if needed). Cover with foil and bake in a 375 F oven for 40 minutes (if the pasta is nearly cooked, then you only need to cook for 20 minutes.  You can test for this by clipping off a tiny part of the pasta and taste testing for doneness.  If you would be comfortable eating the pasta as is, then only bake for 20 minutes.  If it is still a little stiff, which is fine, then bake for 40 minutes.
  13. After 40 minutes (or 20 minutes – see above), remove from the oven, and allow to set on the counter from 10 minutes before serving.
  14. Top with your favorite toppings: Vegan Parmesan cheese, Italian microgreens, red pepper flake, etc.


*Vegetable Stock: We use Pacific Organic Vegetable Stock. We love this brand because it is Whole Food Plant Based compliant, as it does not contain MSG, has no oil, and does not contain any highly-processed ingredients.

*Chopped Baby Spinach: You want to chop up the baby spinach into small pieces otherwise it can clog up your piping bag while trying to pipe the mixture into the manicotti or shell pasta.

*Steamed or Microwaved Cauliflower:  The key is to wring out as much of the water as you possibly can from the cooked, riced cauliflower.  This will allow the mixture to remain thick inside the pasta while baking. Cauliflower tends to give off a lot of water while cooking so it is important to wring out as much as you can.

*Marinara Sauce: We like extra sauce with our shells or manicotti, so we purchased 2 – 24 oz. jars just ensure that everyone has plenty of sauce with their dish. One jar went into the dish, the other jar was extra to pour on top when serving. Watch labels to ensure that the brand you select is refined sugar free and oil free. Or you can use our Easy Healthy Marinara Sauce recipe.  You will need to 2.5 X the recipe.

*Manicotti Shells: (or large pasta shells)  We used 1 – 7 oz. box of Jovial Foods Gluten Free Brown Rice Manicotti Shells Believe it or not there is a huge difference in the size and shape of manicotti shells and giant shells based upon brands.  Some brands are way larger than others. You may or may not have left over pasta after filling the pasta with the cauliflower mixture.  This wasn’t a problem for us since we just threw the extra shells in a bowl and ate it with the leftover marinara sauce.

*Thyme Leaves: We use Penzeys French Thyme.  It has amazing flavor.  Please note that dried crushed thyme leaves is not the same as ground thyme. You can use either in this recipe.  We used dried crushed thyme leaves, so if you are using ground thyme, scale back a little more than half of the amount used, and check for flavor. Adjust as preferred.

*Sea Salt: Please adjust the sea salt based upon your family’s sea salt preferences and/or based upon dietary needs.

*Serving:  5 – 7

*Storage: Refrigerate and use within 7 days.