baked eggplant & spinach ziti

April 28, 2008

My at the time very much not vegan ex-boyfriend introduced me to baked ziti. Recently, I’ve been using it as the lazy way of getting the comforting taste of lasagna with only half the effort. The basic recipe is just boil some ziti (or rigatoni, if your store, like mine, has never heard of ziti), mix with your favorite tomato sauce, bake. I almost always include tofu ricotta as well.

Today’s picture is even less glamorous than previous pictures I’ve posted, but hey, it’s baked ziti. What do you expect.

My original recipe involves covering the ziti for most of the cooking time with aluminum foil, and while I would recommend doing so if you have aluminum foil, I certainly wouldn’t go out and buy it just for this purpose. And since this is the only thing I ever used it for, I’ve stopped buying it. This is, of course, more important if you’re using soy cheese which likes to be covered in order to melt properly.

Baked Eggplant & Spinach Ziti

~1/4 lb ziti
1 small italian eggplant, diced small
1 vegan sausage, sliced
~1 c spinach
1 14.1 oz can petite diced tomatoes, with liquid
3 tbs tomato paste
1 tsp spices (oregano or italian seasonaing)
1 c tofu ricotta*
salt to taste
1/3 med onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely

Preheat oven to 350. Boil water for ziti (add salt and ziti when appropriate). Saute onion, garlic, eggplant and sausage in a bit of olive oil with some salt on med-low heat until vegetables are mostly soft and everything is lightly browned. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, and adjust salt (since the spinach will not be seasoned, a bit salty is ok). Cook the ziti until almost-done, and simmer the sauce until the ziti is done. Drain the ziti thoroughly, and then mix in 3/4 of the sauce with the ziti. Layer half the ziti and tomato sauce mixture, then spinach, then tofu ricotta, the remaining ziti, and finally, the remaining sauce. If desired, top with vegan mozzarella (Teese is an awesome choice!). Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool for 10-20 minutes before serving.

*I use the basil tofu ricotta recipe from VWAV, adapted to use other herbs if I don’t have basil, or dried if I don’t have fresh.

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