Friday, September 19, 2008

Baked Ziti with Basil Bread Crumbs

This recipe is a spin-off of the Pumpkin Baked Ziti I made when my mom was here in August. Brad's not a pumpkin fan, as I've mentioned before, so I wanted to tweak that recipe into something he would enjoy. It was creamy, delicious, and thoroughly satisfying. Yum!

For the ricotta cheese, I used the almond-tofu ricotta recipe from Veganomicon (I've said it before, and I'll say it again: go get yourself a copy of that cookbook! It's the best!), and I made fresh bread crumbs from a loaf of Italian bread. Brad stirred some crumbled feta cheese into his serving, but I ate it as-is.


I don't think I've blogged about this yet, but I'm extremely happy to announce that, since switching to a primarily vegan diet in mid-June, I've lost 26 pounds! And Brad has lost 10 pounds since he got back from Japan last month, and became a full-time vegetarian! That's without altering our lifestyle at all, aside from no longer eating meat. I'm thrilled about that! I still have a long way to go to meet my long-term weight, health and lifestyle goals, but I'll get there. I'm off to a good start! I feel fantastic, and so much lighter (no wonder!). I've been hauling a heavy tote bag to class with all my books and notebooks in it, and on a whim the other evening, I weighed it to see how much it weighed compared to how much I've lost. It came in at 15 pounds -- a little over half of what I've lost -- and was an excellent tangible way to see how much I'm no longer hauling around every day. No wonder I feel better!

Baked Ziti with Basil Bread Crumbs

1 pound ziti
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
2 cups vegan ricotta cheese
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp dry basil
1 tsp dry oregano
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 375. Prepare a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook ziti per package instructions.

While pasta is cooking, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and basil; cook and stir until onions are deeply browned and caramelized. Set aside.

Drain pasta. In a large mixing bowl, combine pasta, onion mixture, ricotta, tomato sauce and tomatoes, mixing thoroughly. Pour into prepared baking dish; set aside.

With a paper towel, wipe out the skillet used for the onions. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-high heat, then add basil and oregano. When the herbs begin to sizzle, add the bread crumbs and walnuts, tossing to coat with oil. Cook and stir several minutes, until the mixture begins to brown. Spread evenly over the pasta mixture.

Bake at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes.


sarahom said...

Wow, lady, 26 pounds is AWESOME! I'm definitely going to try your spinoff ziti recipe too. We love the pumpkin ziti around here but its nice to mix it up.

Mariposa said...

Wow! congrats on the weight loss!

I have been reading your blog for a while- who wouldnt visit a blog with slut in the name??? I love love love it- I used your black bean and sweet potato idea a few days ago (but I used salsa instead of pico de gallo) and it was a simple delish meal that totally did the trick!

I will never get my other half to go vegan with me and I still eat meat about three times a week- but we both eat dairy free (me by medical reason- him because he has to eat what I make! lol)

anyway- love it!!!

Lea said...

I've been lurking on your blog for a while, and I had to comment on your blog , great recipies and weight loss! During Memorial Day weekend, one of the biggest meat-grilling days of the year, I made the decision to go vegan, and just like you - I've lost weight without really trying, and i'm curious to know how you feel all around? I used to get migraines and feel generally crappy most days, but all that is gone, and I feel better than I ever have in my life.
I wish you continued health and success, and your blog is fantastic- your blueberry muffin recipie is on heavy rotation here at our house.

Sandra said...

I'm new to cooking, and just made this dish for a group a people. They loved it! I couldn't believe how delicious it turned out – they ate everything, and I caught my boyfriend licking the pan when he was cleaning up.