Vegan Baked "Ziti"Before we changed our eating habits in 2013 to cut out dairy, I was never really a huge cheese eater, but have to admit that these days I do miss some of my old dinner favorites that required cheese and dairy as a staple on the ingredient list!  Recently, while our oldest son was home for the holidays, we chose to make our version of Vegan pizza with non-dairy cheese by Go Veggie!  Admittedly, I have not found a dairy-free cheese alternative that I loved until we found this product line.  It melts, it doesn’t smell funny and the flavor, A-MAZING!

So this week, my hubby and I decided we wanted a little more of a hearty dinner and I concocted a super simple Vegan version of one of our favorite Italian dishes, Baked “Ziti”.  Here’s the lowdown on this dish –

Ingredients

In large pot combine spaghetti sauce, diced tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, garlic powder and kosher salt.  Heat over medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring often to prevent scorching.

Pre-heat oven to 375.  While pasta sauce is cooking, coat bottom and sides of 13×10 lasagna or baking pan with Earth Balance Spread to prevent sticking.

Once Zucchini and Mushrooms are tender in your pasta sauce, prepare to assemble your “Ziti” in the coated baking pan.

Pre-Oven ZitiStart with a thin layer of pasta sauce on the bottom, next add half of prepared brown rice pasta and spread over bottom of dish.  Then add a thin layer of Go Veggie! Mozzarella Shreds and another layer of pasta sauce.  Continue process until you have used all of the pasta sauce and finish by topping with the remaining Mozzarella Shreds.

Place in oven and bake at 375 for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes the sauce and shreds will begin to bubble.  Turn oven on Hi Broil and cook for another 5-10 minutes depending on desired brownness you prefer.  Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

The key for me in preparing this dish is finding Vegan and/or Vegetarian options that are Junk-Free, which means you have to take a little more time to read your labels.  If you don’t recognize the ingredients, don’t place it in your cart.  Most local grocery chains are beginning to cater more to special eating needs these days and I have found that a lot of the larger stores will stock items if you request them.  We still stick with our local co-op for our shopping, but if you don’t have that organic friendly option in your town, you can still get a lot of good options by reading your labels.

And remember, the ultimate goal is always to Eat.Good.Healthy.Food!