Eat - June 14, 2019

Quick Vegan Baked Ziti With Cashew Ricotta Cheese

When I was a stay-at-home, mama, making a gourmet meal every night was something I looked forward to. I often refer to my kitchen as my zen den, so being able to start whipping things up for dinner during my daughter’s afternoon nap was something I looked forward to. Now, I’m a working mother balancing (or trying to) my workload, being as present as possible once my daughter is home from school, in addition to the fact that I’m pregnant with baby number two. Something is bound to give. And sometimes that something is dinner. That’s not to say that my standards for what my daughter eats have changed. Meals are still meat-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free, but more days than not, I don’t have the time to fuss over dinner. So I’ve gotten better (or smarter) with meal choices and prep.

One of my go-to meals is a vegan baked ziti that I can quickly toss together and pop in the oven. My daughter loves this meal, and it’s fool-proof, especially since we got our new Café Appliances’ oven.

Here’s how it’s done…

  • 1 lb ziti pasta, rigatoni or penne (gluten-free preferred)
  • 1 jar of your favorite organic ready-made tomato sauce or homemade tomato sauce
  • pre-made homemade vegan cashew ricotta "cheese"
  • homemade vegan parmesan "chesse"

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Step 2: Put a large pot of salted water on to boil.

Step 3: Once the water has reached a rumbling boil add the pasta. The pasta should take just a few minutes to cook. Follow the instructions on the box, you don’t want the noodles to get too soft. Once ready, drain the pasta.

Step 4: Place half of the cooked pasta into a baking dish.

Step 5: Cover with tomato sauce and mix.

Step 6: Add homemade vegan ricotta cheese (you should have this pre-made or you can use your favorite ready made vegan ricotta cheese). Use a silicone spatula to spread the “cheese” over the first layer.

Step 7: Add remaining tomato sauce.

Step 8: Again spread enough vegan ricotta cheese to cover the second layer of tomato sauce.

Step 9: Top with homemade vegan parmesan

Step 10: Generously sprinkle enough vegan parmesan cheese to cover the entire top.

Step 11: Bake covered with casserole top or aluminum foil for 20 minutes. Uncover and then bake for another 10 minutes until top is lightly browned and the dish is hot all the through.

Why My New Oven Makes A Real Difference 

One of my fave features is the ability to control my oven right from my mobile device, where I downloaded the Café Appliances app. I can easily preheat my oven so by the time I get through my apartment door my oven is ready to go. No wasted time there.

I can also monitor how much cooking time is left from the app, which means I don’t have to walk back to the kitchen constantly to check. I can actually take a shower while the casserole is baking without worrying that I’ll burn my ziti.

If I do want to put my eyes on the dish, the large window and bright light allow me to check the progress of my meal without having to open the oven door. Opening the oven door is a terrible habit to have because it releases heat from your oven, slowing down the whole cooking process.

Nothing is worse than pulling a dish out of the oven because the top seems cooked, only to discover the other layers are barely lukewarm. That’s all changed for me since installing Café Appliances’ True European Convection with Direct Air oven. I couldn’t be any happier with how fast and evenly cooked my dishes come out.

Another bonus is how large my new oven is. This oven can have multiple racks going at once—a feature I’m looking forward to utilizing a lot next holiday season. Especially for Thanksgiving when I cook my annual 20 person dinner.

Thanks to Cafe Appliances for not only making the most customizable chic kitchen appliances but also for thinking about all the little extra ways to simplify home-cooking for busy parents. If you missed my other posts on my kitchen remodel and how I stock my new fridge, make sure to catch them here and here.

 

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