Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Welcome to the very first post of Sugar Coated Vegan!

I've been thinking about starting a food blog for a very long time and I finally decided to take the plunge and try it out! Although this blog will most likely be based heavily on vegan desserts - my first post is actual one of my favorite dinner recipes; Baked Ziti. I'm Italian so you know we love our cheese but I can say you don't miss it at all here. The cashew ricotta tastes just as creamy as dairy ricotta and it is phenomenal! I was actually super impressed with the taste after I made this and I think it would taste even better with some fresh veggies mixed in as well. You could also add your favorite vegan mozzarella cheese to make this dish even cheesier. Feel free to experiment and let me know how it turns out!

All the best,

Vegan Baked Ziti
  • 1 lb. of your favorite Ziti Pasta
  • 3 cups of Tomato sauce (or less depending on your preferences)
  • A handful of breadcrumbs to sprinkle over the top (Nutritional Yeast would taste good as well but I don’t really use it so just breadcrumbs for me!)
  • Some spray oil or olive oil to coat your baking dish with.
For the cashew ricotta:

While preparing the cashew ricotta, preheat your oven to 350° F.
  • 1 ½ cups soaked raw unsalted cashews* (I did a quick soak of two hours with semi-warm water but you should soak them over night. The water should at least cover the cashews because they will plump up while they’re soaking. )
  • ¾ cup lemon juice (Mine tasted super lemony in the beginning but when it’s all combined you can barely taste it.)
  • ½ tablespoon of Italian Seasoning
  • ½ tablespoon of Basil (I’m sure fresh Basil would be amazing in this for a little hint of freshness!)
  • ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
  • A pinch of paprika
  • Two garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tablespoons of water or more (If you feel the mixture is too thick, add a tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency that you want.)
* If you can’t find raw unsalted cashews you can substitute with roasted unsalted cashews but the raw ones are definitely better.

I processed this all in the food processor until it became a very creamy consistency with no chunks of nuts leftover. I didn't keep count but mine took at least five minutes.

After you’re done preparing all of your ingredients, combine the cashew ricotta, pasta and sauce in a bowl and mix until it’s completely mixed. I added the whole amount of the ricotta to my dish but if you want less that would work as well. After it’s all combined, transfer it to your  oiled baking dish, cover and bake for 25 to 30 minutes (depending on your oven) until it’s heated through completely and then uncover and bake for an additional 5 – 7 minutes until the breadcrumbs become golden brown. If your breadcrumb topping doesn't seem to be browning drizzle or spray a bit of oil over the top to help it along.

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