Baked Ziti Casserole

Prep: 20 minutes Cook: 45 minutes

Serves:6

By Diane Barnett
I use a Penne Rigate for this dish, but you can use any pasta you like. What makes this dish so easy to make is the fact that the noodles and the filling are all mixed together so you have this delicious pasta casserole without layering noodles or veggies. This is healthy, low fat and totally oil free. This tofu mix makes a delicious filling. I also use it for my lasagna in place of a ricotta filling.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch lightly steamed broccoli crowns
  • 1 bunch lightly steamed asparagus cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 8 ounces firm or extra firm tofu - not silken
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp agave nectar
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 4 cups cooked pasta
  • 1 cup stemmed and chopped spinach
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups bottled or homemade marinara sauce (no oil added)

Directions

Steam the asparagus and broccoli al dente, and cut into bite sized pieces and set aside. Saute the chopped onion, and peppers in water or veggie broth until almost tender. Add the sliced mushrooms, adding more water or veggie broth to keep them from sticking.

Meanwhile drain the tofu (to get all the water out) by wrapping in a clean towel and squeezing tightly or put a heavy pan on top of the wrapped tofu and let drain a couple hours. Crumble tofu into a large bowl using your fingers. Add the nutritional yeast flakes, lemon juice, agave nectar, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, oregano, salt and pepper and mash with a fork until completely smooth.

Combine the pasta and tofu in a large bowl and add the sauteed mushrooms, onions and peppers and mix well. Add spinach and the parsley. Gently stir in the broccoli and asparagus being careful not to break it up. Make sure the mix is evenly combined. This is a heavenly combination that can be used in a variety of dishes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Use a 9 inch non stick or silpat flexible square baking pan or pour some sauce in the bottom of a regular baking pan or casserole to lightly cover the bottom of the dish so the ziti mix won't stick. Place one half of the ziti mix into the prepared baking dish. Top with one half of the marinara sauce. Repeat the layering procedure with the remaining pasta mixture and marinara sauce. Bake 30 minutes or until heated through and lightly browned around the edges. Serve hot. This is really delicious. Even my meat eating friends love this dish.

Hint: I often buy an oil free marinara and then tweak it with my own spices and always a splash of good balsamic vinegar to cut the acidity of the marinara sauce.