I am a big fan of zucchini. It grows easily, it’s usually pretty cheap, and it’s an incredibly versatile veggie (technically a fruit, but whatever). While zucchini is great in curries and sautéed into simple stir-fry dinners, it’s also great to eat raw. In fact, I prefer to eat it raw most of the time — it is a cool alternative to cucumbers on veggie platters. In this Zucchini Manicotti recipe we’re going to serve it with a decadent cashew cheese and a red sauce of choice for a simple, mostly raw meal that highlights the bright colors and fresh texture of this fun veggie.
Here’s some botanical nerdery: zucchini is in the cucurbit family, like cucumbers and other squashes. It can be deep green or bright yellow, and is a variety of Summer squash (different than Winter squashes, like pumpkin or Butternut) and can be found year round here on Oahu. Zucchini flowers are also edible, which is pretty cool.
Don’t like raw zucchini? See my Thai-Style Green Curry with Eggplant video and my Ginger Zucchini Stir-fry video to learn more. If you want something more filling, you can also include lasagna noodles here, by rolling the zucchini into the noodles.
Mostly Raw Zucchini Manicotti
6 large zucchini
2 cups raw cashews, soaked 1 hour in water
Pinch of salt, more to taste
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked 1 hour in water
1 (10-ounce) block extra firm tofu
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup prepared pesto, more to taste
1 (25-ounce) jar prepared marinara sauce, Homemade Marinara, or Homemade Romesco (Red Pepper) Sauce
- To prepare the Zucchini: Wash and dry the zucchini.
- Trim ends on the zucchini evenly. Lay the zucchini flat onto the cutting surface, and very carefully use a veggie peeler to make long, thin ‘noodles’ with the zucchini. Flip the veggie to the opposite side to get the widest slices; once the middle, seedy part becomes visible, stop peeling. This can be tricky, so move mindfully and try peeling a few different ways to find the best result. Save any zucchini scraps for future recipes! Set aside the noodles for now.
- To prepare the Cashew Cheese: Drain and rinse cashews (pour out the soak water). Pulse cashews in the food processor until ground and very crumbly with a pinch of salt. Add the tofu and pulse to combine.
- Drain the sun-dried tomatoes, reserving soaking water. To the cashew mixture, add the sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice, and pesto, into the processor and blend to combine. Add in reserved tomato soak water 1 Tablespoon at a time to create a very creamy and smooth consistency.
- Taste, and add a bit more pesto, salt or lemon as needed for taste. Turn out the cashew mixture into a mixing bowl.
- To prepare the Manicotti: Layer sauce of choice onto serving dish in a thin layer.
- Layer zucchini strips onto a clean cutting board in sets of three slices. To each strip of zucchini, add about 1 Tablespoon of cashew cheese to one end, then roll towards the opposite end, sealing with a dollop of extra cashew cheese.
- Place open-side up onto the serving plate, in the sauce.
- These are best if served immediately. If you’re serving at a later time, keep all components separate until serving.
Notes: This makes a really large amount of cashew cheese – you can use it all in this recipe if you have enough zucchini noodles, or save for later and use on regular pasta, layered into lasagna, as a veggie dip, or on wraps. You can also halve the above recipe if you want to reduce the overall amount.
Yield: About 20-30 zucchini manicotti rolls (depending on the size of your zucchini).