- Sauce: To start, heat some olive oil in a saucepan with a few garlic cloves (2-3), sliced thin. Add a can of crushed tomatoes, half an onion (keep it in one large chunk so you can easily scoop it out after - that way it flavors the sauce without affecting the texture), a sprinkle of sugar (optional), a pinch of salt, a shake of red pepper flakes, and a dash of oregano. Simmer away.
- Pasta: J boiled up some whole wheat rotini to up the healthy factor of the dish.
- Eggplant: Slice an eggplant into 1/4 inch thick slices. Salt and pepper it and let it drain for an hour, then fry each side in some olive oil.
- Tofu Ricotta: I really wish I'd taken a photo of this. It was so easy to make, and while I was skeptical at first, it came out really well, and lent a lovely silky texture to the baked ziti. I love cheese, all cheese, but I would definitely make this again. Into the food processor went: one package of silken tofu (a little over 12 ounces), about a tablespoon of dried oregano, a squeeze of lime, about a tablespoon of miso paste (use dashi-free miso to make this vegan), a teaspoon of garlic powder, and a scattering of shredded fresh parsley leaves. Then I drizzled in olive oil while blending - about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup. You can stop while it's still sort of crumbly, like fresh ricotta, but I kept going until it was silky smooth and I really liked the texture.
- Bread Crumbs: J used a mixture of panko and Italian bread crumbs and toasted them in the cast iron skillet in some butter to give them some nice color and texture.
To assemble, stir the tofu ricotta into the sauce until it's fully incorporated. Then add the pasta, and toss to make sure it's evenly coated. Then start layering into a casserole dish (I think ours is 9x13). First a layer of pasta, then eggplant, then sauce, then pasta, then eggplant, then sauce, then top it all of with the breadcrumbs and bake.
I sauteed some spinach to serve on the side - olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. For lunch the next day, I added some frozen peas to the leftovers to up the veggie quotient, and that was pretty freaking delicious. As soon as we ran out, I couldn't wait to make more so, yes, add this to your repertoire.