Baked Ziti with Herbed Ricotta and Cashew Cream

May 3rd, 2014 2:51 pm by Kelly Garbato

2014-04-24 - MVT Baked Ziti - 0010 [flickr]

Of all the recipes in Mayim’s Vegan Table, I think I was looking forward to the Baked Ziti the most. (It’s got two kinds of nut cheese! TWO!) I had to wait to try it though, on accounta I had to order some bulk macadamia nuts online. I’m not sure why, but I rarely cook with raw macadamia nuts. I can’t even remember the last time we had them in the house!

The verdict: pretty good, though I think it stopped just *this short* of living up to my expectations/wildest fantasies.

While the recipe might look a wee bit daunting to newbies, it’s not a terribly difficult dish to make. For one, you can use store bought sauce if you’d rather. (I made my own from scratch – using the rest of last year’s tomatoes, long since in deep freeze – but didn’t use the recipe provided in the cookbook. There was several gallons of sauce there, and I just winged it.)

Also, the nut cheeses are rather easy, with just a few ingredients each. The hardest part is remembering to soak the nuts the morning of. (The macadamia nuts need at least four hours; the cashews, two. I like to soak the suckers all day before I pulverize them into mash. It’s like a spa day before the apocalypse!)

So there’s ziti, pasta sauce, herbed ricotta cheese made with macadamia nuts, and cashew cream. Mix in a bowl, spread into a 9×13″ baking pan, and bake at 350F for 30 minutes. What could be easier? You can even assemble it ahead of time to avoid the dinner rush. For an extra brown cheesy top, uncover and broil for an extra few minutes.

Naturally I sampled both cheeses before adding them to the pasta:

2014-04-24 - MVT Ricotta - 0004 [flickr]

The ricotta is pretty amazing. It’s a little lighter and fluffier than the tofu-based ricotta I’m used to. It has a slightly different, nuttier flavor, too. Very yummy.

Looks like mashed potatoes but most definitely isn’t. Bet they’d play nice together though.

2014-04-24 - MVT Cashew Cream - 0003 [flickr]

The cashew cream is good too; it tastes a lot like similar cashew sauces I’ve made in the past. The green color comes from the parsley!

The recipe calls for 12 ounces of ziti; since I hate separating boxes of pasta, I used the full pound and increased the ricotta and cashew cream recipes by 25%. As it turns out, I could have left them as-is and still had more than enough nut cheese to coat the pasta: this recipe makes a ton of cheese! I think maybe enough that I can officially classify it as “overkill.” Like, it kind of talks over the pasta sauce. I wish I knew what this dish is supposed to look like – how pale of a pink does the sauce turn once you stir in the cheese? – but sadly there’s no picture.

Anyway, it’s not bad – Shane and I both wolfed it down – but I think it’d be better with a little less cheese. Maybe even one or the other.

It’s great right off the stove top, too. You know, for you impatient eaters out there. I feel you. I am you.

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