Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve

January is upon us. The quietest month of all, a natural respite from the cacophony of holiday festivities, the days ahead stretch out like a lazy yawn. Mercifully unhurried and undemanding, it’s back to work as usual, but without the same frantic pace as before. Some unspoken understanding allows us to resume our activities with a greater margin for error. Retreating back into the warmth of our homes, insulated under the padding of thick sweaters and blankets, I used to see this as a very isolating time of year. Now I’ve come to realize that it’s just a matter of how we choose to find comfort. We’re actually all in this together, experiencing the very same nesting instinct; whether we choose to share our nests with one another makes all the difference.

Inevitably, much will be said about comfort food in the coming days, despite of the incessant push to “eat clean” or observe a “New Year, new you.” Join me in rejecting these silly slogans, once and for all. Changing your diet or exercise regime won’t change who you are. No matter how far you run, no matter how many green smoothies you chug, your essential core remains the same, and you know what? I think that’s pretty amazing.

Pardon the terrible segue here, but I just wanted to take that brief opportunity to wear my heart on my sleeve, inspired by the deeply soul-satisfying dish known as manicotti to us Americans, or “little shirt sleeves” to Italians. Such a labor-intensive pasta preparation could only be made with love and patience, both of which I’d like to believe are in ample supply as we stride boldly forward into 2017. Fitting the definition of comfort food to a T, the combination of noodles, cheese, and red sauce is one that can’t be beat… But perhaps, with just a bit of innovation, improved upon.

Chef Barry Horton of Sanctuary Bistro replaces the wheat-based pasta with savory sheets of yuba, naturally savory, toothsome, and somewhat lighter on the fork. Lithe and flexible, the tofu skins are wrapped up around dairy-free ricotta filling like crepes. There’s less danger of tearing apart hot pasta while fruitlessly burning your fingers during preparation, so even the cook can take it easy during this meal.

A perennial favorite on the menu, it strikes me as an especially appealing dinner now as we steep ourselves in the depths of winter. Soothing and familiar, yet exciting enough to pull us out of hibernation, it’s the kind of meal that makes it a little bit easier to share openly- of food, thoughts, and comfort.

Tofu Manicotti

By Chef Barry Horton of Sanctuary Bistro

Marinara Sauce:

1/2 Medium Yellow Onion, Diced
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
1/2 Cup Red Wine
1 14-Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning
2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
Salt and Pepper, to Taste

Tofu Ricotta:

1 Pound Firm Tofu
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning
1 Teaspoon Minced Garlic
1/2 Cup Vegetable Stock

To Assemble:

10 Ounces Fresh Yuba, Cut into 3×5-inch Rectangles
Olive Oil
Fresh Chives (Optional)

Begin by preparing the marinara. In a sauce pot, sauté the onions in olive oil until translucent. Add in the garlic and cook until aromatic and very lightly browned. Pour in the wine, reduce the heat to medium-low, and let simmer until reduced by half. Stir in the tomatoes and continue to simmer for an additional 10 – 15 minutes. Add the seasonings and yeast, along with salt and pepper to taste, before transferring to a blender. Blend until as smooth or as chunky as you’d prefer.

While the sauce is simmering, make the most of your time and get started on the tofu ricotta. Add all of the ingredients into your food processor and pulse to combine. Pause as needed to scrape down the sides of the container, ensuring that everything is well incorporated. Continue blending until smooth.

To assemble, spoon about 3 tablespoons of tofu ricotta across the short width of each yuba rectangle. Gently roll the strips of yuba up like a little wrap. Sauté 3 or 4 at a time in a generous amount of olive oil, cooking until crisp and lightly golden brown.  Serve on a pool of sauce and garnish with freshly chopped chives, if desired.

Makes 3 – 4 Servings

Printable Recipe

Advertisements

18 thoughts on “Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve

  1. Beautiful Hannah… Yes the essence of who we are remains the same despite what we eat… Wishing you a Peaceful January and sending you and Your Family Lots of Love and Blessings for a year filled with Harmony, and Abundance in both Love and Joy..
    Love and Blessings
    Sue xxx <3

  2. Beautiful post and this looks amazing. I have not worked with yuba strips in too long and need to track them down. I used to look at January as long and depressing, but now embrace the indoor less hurried time which is very true with all the rain this week.

  3. We can’t get fresh yuba here but I do have large sheets of it. I wonder if soaked yuba would translate? January over here launches us into rounds of crazed work to rule with the sun being the boss. Tasmania is situated right under the hole in the ozone layer and the sun beams down mercilessly so you have to work around the hot days. June is our “January”. Brunhilda is lit, there is time to read, to digest, to learn, to cook, to taste, to release. I wonder if we could move Christmas to June here in the Southern hemisphere? It would make it SO much easier…

    1. I must admit, I don’t have as much experience with dried yuba- Ironically, it seems to be harder to find around here. That said, as long as it can be rehydrated to become flexible enough to wrap around the filling without breaking or cracking, it should do the trick! I’d love to hear how it goes, if you give it a shot.

      Oh, if only you could bottle those winters for me… Sounds like a dream right about now!

      1. If I try it, I will most certainly let you know how it went. It certainly looks scrumptious but then everything you share is amazing :)

  4. Happy 2017 to you, dear Hannah! If you like it, In december, I wrote my first ever E-Book! It is called Healthy vegan Christmas! It all has 10 new unpublished vegan recipes & 8/10 are also gluten=free! You can get it if you subscribe by email to my blog! Enjoy! I have 2 versions! One for iPad, iMac or Iphone & one in pdf!

Leave a Reply