I am clearly not on a low carb diet anymore, that was soo 2005. And screw diets anyways, they don’t work. That being said this is truly a hearty indulgent dinner but so much fun and oh so good. On my way home from Chicago after Thanksgiving I was watching Diners, Driver In’s and Dives on the plane and one restauranter offered a pizza with pasta on top. My Italian heart went through the roof and immediately decided I needed to make a vegan version for the blog. So Voila! I give to you Vegan Baked Ziti Pizza. Traditionally a baked ziti is pasta that is slightly under cooked and then finished off in the over to al dente with loads of cheese and meat. This is similar such that the pasta is baked but while on top of an already cheesey pizza. The result is rather delectable!
While in Chicago I went to Eataly, Mario Batali’s cool new restaurant meets market concept that will soon be opening in Los Angeles. I loved the subway tiles through out creating a clean bright atmosphere, the perfect enviorment to get lost in the endless rows of cookbooks and pasta. I also made sure to stop at White Castle to try their new vegan slider. Although it was not that good, the fact that a fast food resturant is offering a vegan option is a sign that we are slowly waking up as a society to the impact of having diets so high in animal products and there’s cleary an increased demand for alternatives. Hats off to you White Castle! #youarewinning the fast food game.
Song of the day: Sunshine by Flight Facilities
For The Pasta:
Heat oven to 425f degrees. If using a pizza stone, place it in the oven to warm up. A regular cookie sheet will also work but no need to warm that up.
Cook pasta until quite al dente, or 2 minutes less than the suggested cooking time. Please be sure to under cook it!! It will keep cooking in the sauce, then in the oven and mushy pasta is not good.
Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.
I used gluten free brown rice pasta from Trader Joes.
Heat large sauté pan over medium heat.
Coat with some olive oil and heat oil.
Add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, oregano, pepper flakes, basil and salt over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes stirring frequently.
Dont be shy with the salt and pepper.
Add crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Add the tomatoe paste and the 1/4 cup reserved pasta water. Stir to combine.
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Stir in drained pasta and heat together for one minute.
FOR THE PIZZA:
I used the pre-made frozen pizza crust from Trader Joes. You could also use their pre-made dough or if you wanted a gluten free crust- I love the Minimalists Bakers Gluten Free Pizza Crust:
I let the pizza defrost according the the package instructions, Then par-bake the pizza crust for 3-4 minutes. This is to help the bottom and the crust get a little crunchy action going on- if you do not do this the pizza crust will remain soft.
Then top with the pizza with marinara sauce and the mozzarella cheese and put back in the over for another 3-4 minutes until the cheese has melted (the melt time will vary depending on what vegan cheese you bought so keep an eye on it)
Its important to get pizza or marinara sauce that is thick, if its too watery the pizza crust will not get crunchy. If needed you can strain the sauce to remove some excess liquid before topping on the pizza.
Remove the pizza from the oven once more, top it will the pasta, cover it with the mozzarella and vegan parmesan and then put back in the over for another 3-4 minutes.
Remove,garnish, slice and serve
VEGAN PARMESAN CHEESE
3/4 cup cashews
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
Add all ingredients into the food processor and pulse until crumbly and combined. This will be more than enough for this recipe with plenty left over for later. This is great on salads, tacos, or roasted veggies!