Shanghai-based foodie and restaurateur Lindsey Fine (aka Veggie Mama) has been creating all sorts of delicious vegan recipes since moving to China eight years ago. You can read all about the perks of eating a plant-based diet via her blog Veggie Mama and sample recipes on this series, Cooking with Veggie Mama. In this edition, Lindsey shares her recipe for Vegan Kale, Pumpkin & Tofu Ricotta Roll Ups.
Sometimes you just want to feel fancy. But feeling fancy means different things to different people, especially vegans. In China, I have come to find that eating out at a fancy restaurant as a vegan usually means you will be dining on the finest bread or broccoli the city has to offer. Ambiance is nice and everything, but I will take a hearty meal over white tablecloths any day.
Luckily, you can feel like a fancy chef and fancy dining patron all in one day with this recipe. If you’re looking to impress, this is a good way to do it. Most of the steps in this recipe are pretty easy, they just take a bit of time. There are a few things you’ll want to make ahead of time. For example, I suggest making the roasted kale and pumpkin and the tofu ricotta mixture the day before. If you do that, everything will be a breeze on the night of your fancy dinner.
The one step that might be a bit troublesome for you is slicing the zucchini. If you have a mandolin, it will be easier. I used my vegetable peeler, which wasn’t the simplest or most fun thing to do, but it was 100% worth it for those Insta-worthy pics. If your knife skills are on point, you might be able to slice them thin enough that way, but mine are not, so peeler it was.
You can easily double this recipe if you want to freeze one dish for later or if you need to feed a lot of people. I definitely recommend doing so because it does take a bit of time to make, so making two servings will save time later. Also, it’s definitely something you will want to enjoy a lot of!
Kale, Pumpkin & Tofu Ricotta Roll Ups
1/2 pumpkin, slice into thin(ish) chunks with the rind sliced off
2 handfuls of kale, washed and destemmed, torn into medium pieces
450g extra from tofu, drained well and patted dry (the drier and crumblier the better)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
4 tbs chopped fresh parsley or 3 tbs dried parsley
2 tbs chopped fresh basil or 1 tbs dried basil
2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbs nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
2 medium zucchinis or green squash, sliced lengthwise into thin slices (this will be used like sheets of lasagna to roll up the filling, so you need to make sure they are thin enough to be pliable)
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs chopped fresh basil or 1 tbs dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Additional parsley for garnish (optional)
Vegan parmesan and/or vegan mozzarella (optional: I used some homemade coconut and cashew vegan cheese but I am still working on the recipe, hopefully I can finalize and share soon!)
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
2. Place pumpkin on a baking sheet and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Once the oven is ready, roast the pumpkin for 15 minutes. Then, take the baking sheet out and turn the slices over.
3. Add kale to baking sheet and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Roast for an additional 10-15 minutes. The pumpkin should be soft and kale should be a bit crispy on the edges. Be careful not to burn the kale.
4. Once the veggies are roasted, place them in a medium bowl and mix and mash with a fork. Place in the fridge until cool (preferably overnight). You will mix this into the tofu ricotta later.
5. In a medium bowl, crumble tofu with your hands a bit, so larger chunks remain. Add the garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, basil, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Mix and continue to crumble by hand until mixture resembles seasoned ricotta. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking, if desired. The flavors will meld and become stronger as the mixture sits. Cover and place in the fridge (preferably overnight).
6. When you are ready to bake the zucchini rolls, preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and prepare a square glass baking dish by lining it with baking paper or drizzling with olive oil.
7. Remove the pumpkin and kale mixture and tofu mixture from the refrigerator and add pumpkin and kale mixture to the bowl with the tofu mixture. Using a wooden spoon, fold in the pumpkin and kale, making sure not to break up the tofu too much, as you want it to maintain the texture of ricotta.
8. Working with one thinly sliced piece of zucchini at a time, add about 1 1/2 tbs of the tofu ricotta on top of the slice. Spread evenly, leaving 1-2 cm at the end uncovered. Once that is done, starting with the end that has the mixture on it, carefully roll the sliced zucchini and place on baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining zucchini slices and mixture. Set aside.
9. Place zucchini rolls, seam side down (like photo below) into the baking dish. Make sure they are packed together nice and snug, but not too tight.
10. In a small bowl, mix together crushed tomatoes, freshly minced garlic, basil, and salt and pepper. Mix well and pour evenly over prepared zucchini rolls. Cover the mixture with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
11. After 20 minutes, remove the baking dish from oven and take off the foil, if using, and add vegan mozzarella. Put the baking dish back in the oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes. The roll ups are done when the top is golden brown. You might see what looks like quite a bit of liquid at the bottom of the pan but that’s normal.
12. Remove the baking dish from the oven and plate roll ups. Add vegan parmesan and chopped parsley if using. Enjoy!
Read more Cooking with Veggie Mama
[Images courtesy of Veggie Mama/Lindsey Fine]