I’ve never made baked ziti before, and can only remember having it maybe a couple times growing up. It definitely wasn’t a staple dish in my household, likely because of the cheese required (my mom is lactose intolerant/not a baby cow). This veganized version with crispy shaved brussels sprouts has me wanting to make it every single week — it was seriously that good.
When the awesome people at Banza sent me a box of pasta to participate in their May campaign to promote plant-based eating, they included a box of ziti, which had me perplexed. I guess I could have just cooked it and used it like penne, but I felt that it was time I stepped up to the plate and make some cheesy baked ziti!
I can honestly say that this is probably the most comforting dish I have ever made. It was also super rich, so I was definitely satisfied after a serving (or two!), and had plenty of leftovers for the next couple of days. What makes this super comforting is the way the homemade cashew cheese sauce mixed with the rich pasta sauce. And then of course how it mixed with the pasta, crispy brussels sprouts and vegan parmesan cheese. Did I mention the basil yet? That really helped too.
So basically, what makes this so delicious and comforting is everything. Every single thing.
I just can’t wait to whip this one up again. If you give it a try, please let me know how it went. It’s also pretty difficult to mess this one up. I provided plenty of details below, but in short, what you are doing is roasting the shaved sprouts then combining a bunch of stuff in a casserole dish, mixing it up and baking it.
This was made using a 10×7 inch casserole dish.
- 1 box of Banza ziti chickpea pasta
- 1 1/2 cups of raw cashews, soaked 4-6 hours (you can boil them for a few minutes instead of soaking, but I find they are creamier when soaked)
- 1 1/2 cups of shaved Brussels sprouts (I removed the stem part and thinly sliced them lengthwise)
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 24 oz jar of pasta sauce
- Juice from 1 large lemon
- 3/4 cup of water
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/8 tsp salt, or as much as you’d like to taste
- 1/4 cup vegan parmesan (I used Follow Your Heart brand)
- 2-3 tbsp freshly chopped basil
- Preheat oven to 400°F / 200°C.
- Toss shaved (thinly sliced) Brussels sprouts with avocado oil in a bowl using just enough oil to coat the sprouts. Spread sprouts on a sheet pan and place in the oven to roast for 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper if you’d like.
- While Brussels are roasting, make the cashew sauce. Drain and rinse the soaked cashews and add them to a high speed blender or food processor (I use a Vitamix). Add in lemon juice, water, garlic, nutritional yeast and salt. Blend until very creamy, scraping sides as you go.
- Once Brussels sprouts are done roasting, remove them from the oven and reduce oven temperature to 375°F / 190°C.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the ziti per the directions on the box. (I cooked mine slightly shorter than usual since this whole dish will go in the oven and cook further in there.) Drain the pasta (do not rinse).
- Assemble the casserole:
- Add a layer of pasta sauce to the bottom of the casserole dish.
- Add in half of the cooked pasta.
- Add more sauce over the first layer of pasta and stir to make sure the ziti is coated.
- Add a few heaping spoonfuls of cashew cheese all over the ziti.
- Add half the Brussels sprouts in a thin later across the top. Try to choose the ones that are more blackened to go in this layer.
- Add half of the vegan parmesan by sprinkling it evenly across the top.
- Add the rest of the pasta, pasta sauce and few more spoonfuls of the cashew cheese on top of this. You will likely have a good bit of cashew cheese leftover unless you went absolutely crazy with it (which I recommend if you have the space).
- At this stage, I started to pack down everything in the casserole dish with a spoon.
- Add the rest of the Brussels sprouts across the top along with the basil and the rest of the vegan parmesan.
- Bake at 375°F / 190°C for 20-25 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.