It’s Not Pasta Without the Cheese
May 16, 2010 § 3 Comments
Sorry vegans, but for this girl pasta just isn’t pasta without cheese. I could never be vegan. I love cheese and plain yogurt too much. Along with eggs, they are staples in my diet. I’ve tried limiting dairy products or replacing them with soy, but truth be told, I’m wary of soy. I was spooked by watching “Food, Inc.” and learning that most, if not all, of non-organic soybeans are genetically modified (as is non-organic corn. As far as I know, products labeled as organic are guaranteed not to be genetically modified). I’ll occasionally eat a soy product, like tofu or miso, but surely not every day. Organic dairy products work for me. And, yes, I most definitely buy organic dairy products. In my idealistic brain, they are procured in humane ways from healthy, well-treated, hormone-free animals. I hope I’m not being too naive.
All that is to preface this recipe which appears in the May/June 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times (p. 28). It’s a recipe that was excerpted from Donna Klein’s vegan cookbook Supermarket Vegan: 225 Meat-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Recipes for Real People in the Real World. With a few tweaks (sorry, Ms. Klein!)–which I’ll mention at the end of the recipe–this dish was a winner. Pair it with a fresh green salad and you’re good to go.
Baked Ziti with Zucchini, Chickpeas, and Olives
Serves 6 | 30 minutes or fewer
- 8oz. ziti, rigatoni, or penne pasta
- 1/2 pound zucchini, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, with basil, garlic & oregano, juices included
- 1 cup tomato puree
- 1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives, divided
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 Tbs. tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
- 2 Tbs. Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 11×7-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Cook ziti according to package directions for al dente in large pot of boiling salted water. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again. Return ziti to pot, and set aside.
- Meanwhile, combine zucchini, chickpeas, tomatoes and juices, tomato puree, 2 Tbs. olives, tomato paste, and garlic in large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 5 minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken, stirring occasionally. Stir zucchini mixture into ziti, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
- Transfer ziti mixture to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and remaining 2 tbsp. olives. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until pasta is heated through and breadcrumbs are golden brown.
My tweaks: I used whole wheat penne pasta. I also used panko breadcrumbs with added Italian seasoning in place of the pre-seasoned breadcrumbs suggested in the recipe. What really made the dish for me was the crumbled feta cheese and grated parmesan cheese that I added to the top along with the panko breadcrumbs. Next time I make this I may add some lemon zest to the sauce. That may sound odd, but the dish has a Mediterranean feel that I think would be complemented by a little lemon flavor. It’ll “kick it up a notch,” as Emeril would say.
I give this one 5 out of 5 zucchinis.