If you’re a vegan and you’re invited to a dinner, banquet, or other large party involving food, you usually have two choices: either eat before you go and find a lettuce leaf to nibble on or offer to bring some of the food. Last night I attended a dinner at our local Unitarian Universalist church, and one of the great things about this group of people is that there’s almost always someone else bringing a vegan dish. Last night was no exception, but, since most of the food was provided by a local barbecue place, I offered to help out with a couple more vegan options.
For a main dish, I chose to update one of my old favorites, Rigatoni with Zucchini and Eggplant. (The photo above is not a good representation of the dish. Though there is a high proportion of vegetables to pasta, there really is more pasta than the photo shows!)
This is a layered pasta dish, similar to lasagna, that doesn’t really stay layered when you dish it up. Tofu stands in for ricotta cheese, and the nutritional yeast (available in natural food stores) lends a great cheesy taste. The original recipe used jarred spaghetti sauce, but I wanted a fresher taste, so I used Muir Glen Fire Roasted tomatoes. If you haven’t tried these, you must! They have a lovely sweet, smoky taste. You can find them in natural food stores or in the organic/natural section of some supermarkets.
Rigatoni with Zucchini and Eggplant
- 1 large zucchini — sliced in 1/4″ half moons
- 1/2 medium eggplant — cubed
- 1 large onion — chopped
- 1 bell pepper — seeded & chopped
- 3 cloves garlic — minced
- 3 tablespoons water — (more as needed)
- 12-14 ounces tofu — (lowfat) mashed
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 2 teaspoons dried basil (divided)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (divided)
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes — (optional)
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt — (divided)
- 8 ounces pasta — rigatoni or other small tubular pasta
- 2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes (fire roasted, if available)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- soy Parmesan (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Boil pasta according to package directions, cooking until just barely tender (a little undercooked is better than overcooked). When it’s done, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water before draining the pasta.
- While the pasta’s cooking, sauté the eggplant, zucchini, onions, bell pepper and garlic in 2 tbsp. water in a nonstick pan over medium heat, adding more water if needed to prevent sticking. When the vegetables are tender, add the reserved pasta cooking water, 1 tsp. basil, 1 tsp. oregano, the rosemary, 1 tsp. salt, tomatoes, and tomato sauce; stir, and keep warm.
- Combine the mashed tofu with the pine nuts, parsley, nutritional yeast, and remaining basil, oregano, salt, and red pepper flakes. Stir the cooked rigatoni into the tofu.
- Lightly coat a 4-quart casserole with vegetable oil spray. Spread a thin layer of the vegetable mixture over the bottom (you just want a little sauce there to keep the pasta from sticking). Place a layer of half the pasta mixture, then cover with half the sautéed vegetables; repeat layers.
- Cover the casserole and bake it for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 15 minutes. Before serving, sprinkle with soy Parmesan cheese, if you want.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s) | Cooking time: 50 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6
Nutrition (per serving): 292 calories, 51 calories from fat, 6g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 994.7mg sodium, 460.1mg potassium, 46.1g carbohydrates, 5.8g fiber, 8.7g sugar, 14.9g protein, 8.1 points.
This is a great dish to serve to vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Unfortunately, if you bring it to the Unitarian church in my town, you won’t have any leftovers to bring home!