Pumpkin Baked Ziti with Caramelized Onions and Sage Crumb Topping
3/4 pound uncooked ziti or penne (just realized I used the whole pound! Seemed to work out fine!)
2 onions thinly sliced (one of mine was huge, so I used 1 1/2)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 recipe Cashew Ricotta (see below)
1 Tbsp. browns sugar
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
White pepper and cayenne (I probably used about 1/2 tsp each)
2 c. purred pumpkin or 1 15-oz can pumpkin
1/4 c. veg broth
Sage Bread Crumbs
2 1/2 c. bread crumbs (I threw about 5 slices of double protein wheat bread into the food processor.
Homemade bread crumbs are lighter and crispier! I threw in the walnuts to grind up at the same time)
1/3 c. walnut pieces (I put the whole 1/2 c. bag in there)
1/4 c. nonhydrogenated vegan margarine
2 tsp. dried rubbed sage
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. ground paprika
salt and pepper
1/2 c. raw cashew pieces (about 4 oz)
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves fresh or roasted garlic
1 pound firm tofu, drained and crumbled (I squeeze it in my hands over a strainer. Works great!)
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 tsp salt
I realize now Cashew Ricotta could totally be made ahead of time and refrigerated, if you want to cut down your preparation time on one day. Put cashews, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic into food processor. Once creamy, add tofu, then basil and salt. I ended up adding another half lemon of juice to help get all the tofu blended in. But that shouldn’t be a problem when you’re not using the tiniest food processor on the planet. I think this filling would be great in lasagna too, or even on sandwiches, etc.
Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 9×13 pan with pam, etc.
1. Boil water for ziti, cook according to directions.
2. While water is boiling/ziti is cooking, thinly slice onions and cook until some of them are getting a little brown and caramelized. I used a great cast iron pot for this — highly recommend if you have one. This will take about 15 min.
3. Put cashew ricotta in a bowl and fold in pumpkin, brown sugar, nutmeg, white pepper, cayenne and veg broth — mix. Add cooked ziti and onions, stirring to coat pasta and evenly mix in onions.
4. Poor into 9×13 pan and spread out with spatula.
Bread crumb topping:
1. Melt margarine in a heavy-bottomed skillet (I used a saucepan…) over medium heat
2. Stir in bread crumbs, walnuts, dried herbs, paprika, salt and pepper.
3. Stir constantly until mixture is lightly coated, 3-4 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and sprinkle over ziti.
Bake for 28-30 minutes. Let sit for about 10 minutes, then dig in. Really easier than I thought it would be and really good. I love it even more the second day.
Sweet Potato Hummus
Makes 4 cups
* 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
* 1 can (19.5 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
* 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
* 1/4 cup tahini
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 1 garlic clove, chopped
* Coarse salt and ground pepper
* Whole-wheat pita and crudites such as red pepper and broccoli (Note: It was really good with Wheat Thins — but what isn’t?)
1. Set a steamer basket in a large pot. Fill with enough water to come just below basket; bring to a boil. Add potatoes; reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a food processor.
2. Combine chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, oil, cumin, and garlic in the food processor. Puree, about 1 minute; thin with water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper and let cool; refrigerate, in an airtight container, up to 1 week. Serve with pita and crudites.