The Best Rigatoni and Vegetable Casserole

by on April 13, 2015
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The Best Rigatoni and Vegetable Casserole: This vegan rigatoni casserole is similar to lasagna, yet it uses less pasta and more vegetables than most lasagna recipes.

We all make mistakes. But when you’re a blogger, your mistakes are often preserved in time on the World Wide Web. If no one points them out to you, you can stumble upon them long after they’re made and feel the accumulated embarrassment of years. You may be sitting all alone at your desk yet feel as red-faced as if you’d just belched loudly during the silent meditation at church. Maybe you’ve confused “province” with “providence” and just know that people secretly think you’re an uneducated bumpkin, or you’ve crossed your chopsticks in more than one stir-fry photo and revealed yourself to be culturally insensitive. Or maybe you’ve managed to mangle an entire recipe, calling for tomato paste in the ingredients list and tomato sauce in the directions and listing the ingredients in no apparent order and certainly not in the order in which they’re supposed to be used.

That last scenario inspired this re-do of a re-do of an old favorite recipe.

Each day I look back at what I was cooking on the same date in past years and post a reminder on my Facebook page. In late January, I almost posted a link to my Rigatoni with Eggplant and Zucchini, but because the photo wasn’t good and I hadn’t made the dish in a while, I decided to put the recipe on my “to remake” list and reshoot the photo before mentioning it on Facebook. A couple of months went by before I got around to it, and when I took a closer look, I was appalled at how many errors I found. The ingredients were out of order, the directions were out of order, and the tomato paste was transformed into tomato sauce. In nine years, no one had pointed out any of this to me, and I wasn’t sure whether to be relieved that no one had noticed or concerned that no one ever made the recipe because it was too confusing. But I was deeply embarrassed and felt like I had better get rid of the evidence (oh the power of the Edit button!) fast.

The Best Rigatoni and Vegetable Casserole: This vegan rigatoni casserole is similar to lasagna, yet it uses less pasta and more vegetables than most lasagna recipes.

However, as I made the recipe, I found that tastes change, and I needed to add much more seasoning than I had before, omit ingredients that I no longer use (dried parsley–does it have any flavor?), and update it in ways that I knew would result in a better dish. So rather than just edit the recipe and add new photos to that old post, I decided to come clean with you about the poor state of my early recipe writing and post the final version of the recipe as a new post. Third time’s the charm, I hope!

This vegan rigatoni casserole is similar to lasagna, yet it uses less pasta and more vegetables than most lasagna recipes. However, unlike lasagna, it doesn’t stay layered when you dish it up, so you don’t have to be very careful when assembling it. It’s just as delicious as lasagna, though, and even my eggplant-phobic daughter loves it.

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The Best Rigatoni and Vegetable Casserole

You can make the vegetable mixture in advance; just bring it up to room temperature or warmer before assembling the casserole.
Course Main Course
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 301 kcal
Author Susan Voisin

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces rigatoni or other pasta
  • 1 large zucchini or 2 medium zucchini sliced 1/4-inch half moons
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 bell pepper seeded and chopped
  • 1 small or 1/2 medium eggplant cubed
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 tablespoons water more as needed
  • 2 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes (fire roasted if available)
  • 3 teaspoons dried basil divided
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 12-14 ounces firm or extra-firm tofu reduced fat, if available
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional or to taste
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (omit to reduce fat, see below)

Instructions

  1. Boil the 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.
  2. While the pasta’s cooking, sauté the zucchini, onions, bell pepper, eggplant, and garlic in 2 tbsp. water in a nonstick pan over medium heat, adding more water if needed to prevent sticking. Cover and cook until onion is translucent and eggplant has begun to soften.
  3. Place one of the cans of tomatoes, including juices, into the blender and puree. When the vegetables are tender, add all tomatoes, the reserved pasta cooking water, 1 tsp. basil, 1 tsp. oregano, 1 tsp. salt, the rosemary, and tomato paste; stir, and keep warm.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  5. Mash the tofu in a large bowl and stir in the nutritional yeast and remaining basil, oregano, salt, and red pepper flakes. Stir in the cooked rigatoni.
  6. Lightly oil a 4-quart casserole dish. 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.
  7. Cover the casserole and bake it for 30 minutes. Remove cover and sprinkle with pine nuts, if you’re using them. Bake another 15 minutes.

Recipe Notes

If you leave out the pine nuts, you’ll reduce the calories to 263 and the fat grams to 2.3 or 20 calories (7%) from fat.

Nutrition Facts
The Best Rigatoni and Vegetable Casserole
Amount Per Serving (0g)
Calories 301 Calories from Fat 55
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6.1g 9%
Sodium 995mg 41%
Total Carbohydrates 47.3g 16%
Dietary Fiber 5.9g 24%
Sugars 8.7g
Protein 15.8g 32%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Make it, enjoy it, and if you notice any errors, please let me know!

Susan


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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

1 werner April 13, 2015 at 3:33 pm

Very minor – “2 medium” is mentioned twice on zucchini line. Looks and sounds delicious, will try out tonight!

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2 Susan Voisin April 13, 2015 at 3:50 pm

Thanks Werner! Got it!

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3 moonwatcher April 13, 2015 at 3:54 pm

Susan, I LOVE this post! Such fun, good writing about the behind-the-scenes trials of food blogging! And I loved the link to Just Hungry about the chopsticks–I haven’t been over to that blog in a long while and you reminded me how much I enjoy it. AND. . .I LOVE rigatoni–it’s always been, by far, my favorite pasta shape, so I really enjoyed reading your redo of the recipe. Alas, it is virtually impossible (so far anyway) to come across gluten free rigatoni or spelt rigatoni. But you can bet your sweet bippie I’ll buy it and splurge on some processed carbs the day I do!! Thanks for a great remake. (And don’t be embarrassed about mistakes, but gawd do I know what you mean. . .) xoxo–Maria

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4 Deb April 13, 2015 at 4:14 pm

To moonwatcher (Maria)
We really like this GF pasta:
http://www.vitacost.com/bionaturae-organic-pasta-penne-rigate-gluten-free.
=) Deb

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5 Nottingham Kate April 13, 2015 at 4:37 pm

Susan, as an avid reader of your blog and maker of many of your recipes I have never once spotted a mistake. However, if I did I don’t think I’d ever feel the need to point it out – you’ve done so much for me and many others by giving us your recipes for free that I’d happily ignore the odd typo or unclear instruction. Over the last three years I’ve worked hard to become a healthy size and your lovely food has had a bug part to play in this. Thank you so much. x

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6 Jessica E. April 14, 2015 at 7:25 pm

Wish there was a thumbs up like on FB for blog comments!

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7 Nottingham Kate April 18, 2015 at 5:57 am

“bug part to play in this” I promise, I didn’t do that on purpose. Sitting here laughing at myself now.

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8 Helyn April 13, 2015 at 5:08 pm

Oh my goodness, Susan. I am SO there with you on this. I found a big error in a post from over a year ago the other day! Well we can’t be perfect ALL the time, now can we 😉 The casserole looks fabulous. Where did you find that gorgeous dish?? I want one!

xo,
Helyn

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9 Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) April 13, 2015 at 5:28 pm

Susan, I feel your pain. I revisit my old recipes, too, and sometimes I’m stunned at the errors I find. I only hope I find them before anyone else does! Nowadays I have some readers who write to me right away when a recipe is published with any typo at all, and I’m grateful to them for keeping an eye on me.

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10 Laina April 13, 2015 at 7:06 pm

Susan, I love your transparency! I love this post and had to laugh. I make so many oopsies I have learned to laugh at them all!

The photo of this dish makes me wish I had all the ingredients.

Question: If I buy the long eggplant, about how many should I get? I’m going to the store tomorrow to get all of the ingredients. Can’t wait!

I know I have said this many times and you’ll probably hear it again, but I so appreciate your dedication to preparing healthy meals that are very flavorful. And then you share them with us, taking the time to blog. I know you’re using lots of time, effort and your own resources to keep this blog going so a deep heartfelt thanks to you!!!

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11 Susan Voisin April 14, 2015 at 8:22 am

I would use 2 or 3 of the long eggplants, depending on how big they are. In a way, it’s impossible to have too many veggies in this dish–the more the better!

Thanks for the kind words! It’s great to know that people appreciate the recipes and the work it takes to share them. But I love doing it and can’t imagine making something and not blogging it. 😉

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12 Amey April 14, 2015 at 1:36 am

ha ha. Sigh. I totally know what you mean about revisiting old recipes or posts and being embarassed. I also totally know what you mean about tastes changing over time. So interesting. I think all of our vegan standards have been gently raised over the years. This recipe looks so good and I think my husband and I would both love it. Thanks for refining and resharing it! Hope all is well for you. <3

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13 Meghan April 14, 2015 at 4:49 am

This looks amazing! Way easier than lasagna. This is definitely going on my grocery list for next week. Thinking I might sub yellow summer squash for the eggplant though. I’ve tried several times and just can’t like it. Thanks for updating this recipe, great job!

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14 Anna April 14, 2015 at 6:32 am

sound so easy and delicious!!

https://aspoonfulofnature.wordpress.com/

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15 Deborah April 14, 2015 at 8:12 am

This really sounds great! But when do you add the tofu?

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16 Susan Voisin April 14, 2015 at 8:19 am

The tofu is combined with the pasta in step 5.

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17 Jeanie April 14, 2015 at 12:25 pm

I am making this recipe now! I have zucchini and eggplant that
must be used and this recipe has come just in time. This is my kind of casserole. I think I am getting lazy in my old age because now I look for quick and easy vegan recipes and I love to cook. Thanks Susan. Love, love, your recipes. Jeanie.

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18 Shellie April 14, 2015 at 8:46 pm

In the oven as we speak. Love this recipe. Can’t wait to taste it. Only got a chance to taste the sauce with the veggies, and yum…

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19 lyn Frye April 16, 2015 at 1:12 pm

Thank you for providing vegan recipes that are tasty.

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20 Reesa April 16, 2015 at 9:14 pm

So glad I found your site. I am a alkaline vegan for almost five years with very little cheating! I do not eat tofu, because of breast cancer 5 years ago & I do not eat yeast, as well. Is the recipe still okay if I omit those two ingredients?
Thank you.

Reesa

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21 Deb April 17, 2015 at 7:35 am

Hi Susan,
I made this for the first time, and we loved it! Definitely a keeper =) It was even better as leftovers.

Can I ask pretty please, where did you get the pan, and who is the manufacturer? Is that a 4 qt pan? I only had a 2-1/2 and a 1-1/2, so had to divide it up. I would love to find a 4 qt pan like that =)

Thanks so much!!!
Deb

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22 Susan Voisin April 17, 2015 at 7:50 am

Hi Deb! I’m so glad you liked it, and I agree about the leftovers. I believe I bought the casserole dish at Home Goods. I’m away from home right now so I can’t check out the manufacturer, but I will add that info here when I find out. I didn’t measure it, but it’s smaller than a regular lasagna pan and this casserole just fit in it. I worried that I would have to divide it, but got lucky and it came right to the top.

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23 Laina April 18, 2015 at 12:52 pm

Well, Susan, I made this today and it is the best rigatoni ever. I love the small amount of pasta and the huge amount of veggies. I also added mushrooms to mine. I forgot the pine nuts at the store, but I’ll make this again real soon and add them then.

We have a restaurant that has a mint tea and they add the pine nuts into the glass and I love them! Yum!!!

Thanks again!

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24 Sandy April 18, 2015 at 6:24 pm

This sounds delish! Do you think you could freeze the leftovers?

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25 Jill April 22, 2015 at 10:57 am

I made this as a half-recipe and used kidney beans instead of pasta. Didn’t have any rosemary but added extra red pepper flakes and some fennel seed to give it a “sausage” flavoring. I only had about 1/4 container of tofu so I used that and added in some chopped mushrooms. Didn’t have pine nuts but for my individual servings, I used my rotary grater to grate walnuts on top to look like parmesan. Next time I’ll just sprinkle with nutritional yeast or skip the topping. This came together really well and even a half-recipe cooked in a 2-quart casserole dish made plenty of servings for me to freeze. The sauce is delicioso! I can see this being part of my regular recipe rotation for freezer/leftover meals. I really appreciate and love your recipes!

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26 Amanda August 31, 2015 at 1:39 pm

After I made the recipe, I was wondering how it taste with mushrooms added. I’m glad I’m not the only one! I will add mushrooms next time.

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27 waldripp April 23, 2015 at 3:14 pm

This is great! I will definitely be making it again! I’m having the leftovers for lunches and it’s even better the next day! Thanks!

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28 Vegheadjen April 29, 2015 at 11:39 am

I would prefer a cup estimate for the diced eggplant instead of small and medium. Making this today, sounds really good.

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29 Susan Voisin April 29, 2015 at 11:47 am

I hope you enjoy it! The thing about the vegetable is that the amount is different every time I make it and it really doesn’t make a difference. The recipe will work with a small or a large eggplant–it just depends on how much eggplant you like. 🙂

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30 Vegheadjen April 29, 2015 at 1:08 pm

Ready to go into the oven, and wow, makes A lot . Have you ever frozen portions after baking?

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31 Susan Voisin April 29, 2015 at 1:26 pm

I haven’t, but I think it would freeze just fine.

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32 Shellie April 29, 2015 at 11:51 am

We’re having this again tonight. Love it.

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33 Deb Binder April 29, 2015 at 2:18 pm

How could we ever point out a boo boo when you give so much of your time and creativity to those of us you don’t even know? Besides, your recipes are always wonderful – only you notice if there’s a problem. Thanks for all that you do!

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34 Amy April 30, 2015 at 2:05 am

Hi Susan,
Just wanted to let you know that I made this recently for my family and everyone loved it – vegans and omnis alike! It was really good, made enough for a big family (I doubled up on the pasta, since I have three big-eating teenage boys to feed) and I am planning it for one of the meals when my parents come to visit us this summer. Thanks for updating it and reposting!

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35 Amey May 11, 2015 at 12:33 am

Susan! <3 I made this for dinner tonight and it was SO GOOD. Easy to throw together, and it made a lot, so Musty and I can have it again for dinner tomorrow. Musty absolutely LOVED it and was just swooning with delight. I don't make pasta very often anymore, so this felt really special and fun. Thanks for such a delicious and healthy and easy recipe! <3 <3 <3

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36 Julia Roberts May 15, 2015 at 2:23 am

This looks really delicious to me. Planning to prepare it one day. And thanks for sharing.

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37 Savita @ ChefDeHome May 19, 2015 at 6:24 pm

Susan, this looks very delicious! I love one pot meals which have lot of veggies! Perfect for weeknight dinner! thanks for sharing!

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38 Sue May 20, 2015 at 1:06 pm

Thanks for this recipe. Although we’ve been plant-based for several years, my husbands still pines for the casseroles of days-gone by!!! This fed 4 hungry people last night, and we even have leftovers! It was so good; I’m sure I overate!! Thanks for all your hard work and for sharing.

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39 Will Lloyd May 26, 2015 at 10:14 am

This recipe looks great, definitely going to be recommending your site for healthy vegan low fat recipes on my new blog. Great ideas on reflection and self improvement!

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40 Julie June 7, 2015 at 4:46 pm

Hello Susan,
This recipe sounds wonderful. I would love to make it but need one change. We do not do soy. Any thoughts for an alternative to use?
Thank you!
Julie

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41 Susan Voisin June 7, 2015 at 4:53 pm

You can try it with mashed white beans. I’ve done that with other recipes and it’s okay (other people like it just fine, but I just like tofu so much better.)

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42 Brenna July 31, 2015 at 11:31 am

Hi Susan,

This is probably a really obvious answer, but I should press the tofu before combining with the pasta, right?

Making this tonight for my mom’s birthday. She and my dad are intense meat eaters, but I always try to show them the alternatives! Thanks for posting such great menu options!

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43 Susan Voisin July 31, 2015 at 12:35 pm

I drain the tofu but never press it. I hope your parents enjoy it!

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44 Jennifer August 14, 2015 at 11:51 am

This looks delicious! However, I don’t eat pasta…do you think if I just mixed everything together sans pasta it would still come out ok? Thanks!

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45 Susan Voisin August 14, 2015 at 12:47 pm

You’ll need something to replace the bulk of the pasta. Potatoes or a grain, maybe?

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46 Jill August 27, 2015 at 1:02 pm

I’ve made it with pasta and have also made it substituting kidney beans for the pasta (garbanzos and cannellini beans or really any beans would also work). If I serve it to people coming over, I use pasta. For myself, I cook it with beans, since I’m trying to cut back on pasta. This dish freezes great and makes a ton so make it the way you like it and freeze portions for your lunches! Her sauce is excellent. It’s also a great potluck dish.

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47 Amanda August 31, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Love the idea of using beans instead of pasta! Thanks for sharing, I will try that sometime.

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48 Sheri August 27, 2015 at 9:47 am

HI Susan,

I love all your recipe. After cooking the vegetables, do you drain off some of that liquid? I trust your judgement on this. It seems like a lot and would water down the sauce.

Sheri
P.S. This is now my favorite recipe. Each time I make it I wonder about the draining of the liquid though.

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49 Amanda August 31, 2015 at 1:34 pm

I was stoked to find this recipe so that I could use up some eggplant from a friend’s garden, something other than the usual eggplant parm! I omitted the green pepper (personal taste preference) and added some apple-sage vegan sausage slices, delish!! Next time I would add a can of tomato sauce or another can of pureed diced tomatoes, as we tend to like things a bit saucy. Thanks again for a fantastic recipe!

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50 Bridget October 30, 2015 at 9:18 pm

I actually made your original rigatoni w/ eggplant & zucchini recipe years ago and have made it numerous times since. It’s converted my tofu-phobic family into tofu-lovers and everytime I’ve made it it’s come out so good that there’s never any leftovers. I’ve never had a problem or found any errors in the old recipe, but I’m very bad at adhering strictly to recipe ingredients and instructions anyways and treat them more as guidlines or a template.

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51 Diane Young April 15, 2016 at 11:37 am

Since I am a bit of a word nerd, I noticed you said to place one can of tomatoes into the blender…I had a vision of the can and all going in….LOL!

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52 Susan Voisin April 15, 2016 at 12:11 pm

Ha! I noticed another issue with the wording about the tomatoes and planned to fix it, so I’m glad you pointed that out before I edited.

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53 Julia August 1, 2016 at 3:33 am

Hello 🙂 I was just wondering if you know much soy curls I would have to use to swap with the tofu?

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54 Susan Voisin August 1, 2016 at 8:50 am

I’ve never made this recipe with soy curls and don’t think they’d be a good replacement for tofu. The tofu is used more like ricotta cheese here and helps to hold the casserole together, and I can’t imagine soy curls working like that.

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55 Bmclane February 15, 2017 at 7:30 pm

Mmm!
Stumbled upon your site as I was looking for new plant based recipes. So glad I found it!
I made this dish tonight and had a big bowl of it..so tasty!! 😊👌

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