RECIPE: Sopranos Inspired Vegan Baked Ziti

Make / eat some thing inspired by a book or film.

One of my favourite tv-series ever is The Sopranos. At first it seemed like it wasn’t my cup of tea, misogynistic maffiosi… But soon the show grew on me. The humor, the acting, the setting, the language, I loved everything about it. Of course I also loved the Italian cuisine. A lot of the dishes contain meat, but: anything you can eat, I can eat vegan! The dish I remembered the most was baked ziti. In the fourth season Bobby Baccalieri’s wife, Karen, dies. Bobby saves her last baked ziti in the freezer ’till he’s ready to eat it. The dish is mentioned in a lot of other episodes.
So what? No fucking ziti now?!

Baked ziti is a classic Italian pasta dish with a tomato-meat sauce and lots of cheese. Not particularly a vegan dish… but that’s what I like to veganize! I based myself on this recipe from The Sopranos Family Cookbook. I made balls from seitan and TVP, used my homemade vegan cheese and used penne in stead of ziti (simply because I only had penne at home). The result was lovely: delicious tomato sauce, a nice variety with the soyballs and a delightful creamy plant based cheese!

Sopranos inspired baked ziti | De Groene Keuken #vegan #veganmofo #vgnmf15

Sopranos inspired Baked Ziti

For the balls:
180 gr TVP / minced soy
2 tsp paprika
550 ml hot vegetable stock
2 tbsp soy sauce / tamari
2 tbsp oil
4 tsp tomato puree
2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
if desired, smoke salt or barbecue spices
180 gr vital wheat gluten

For the sauce:
900 ml tomato sauce
1 large onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
if desired, some veggie stock powder or salt

For the vegan cheese  (gebaseerd op dit recept)
2/3 cup cashews
2 2/4 cup water
4 tbsp tapioca starch
6 à 8 tbsp nutritional yest
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
10 tbsp coconut oil
if desired,. 2 tsp brown miso

500 gr ziti or penne, boiled
fresh basil

To make the balls you mix the TVP with the paprika and pour the hot veggie stock over it. Let it rest for a few minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the vital wheat gluten, and mix. Add the vital wheat gluten, mix and knead. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Make small balls out of it and roll them into a cheesecloth (muslin) or tinfoil. Steam for about 20 minutes. Take the balls out of the cloth and place them on a baking dish. Put them in the oven on 180°C for 15 minutes.

Make the tomato sauce by braising the onion ’till it’s soft. Add all the other ingredients and let it simmer on low heat.

Add the balls to the sauce and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.

For the vegan cheese: place all  the ingredients in a blender and blend ’till it’s all liquid. (If your coconut oil wasn’t melted, it can seem like the cheese ‘sauce’ is curdled, but when you heat it up it will become completely fluid).  Pour all of it into a small cooking pan and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Once the structure gets more firm and become a little bit stretchy like dairy cheese, your vegan cheese is ready.

Mix the pasta with the balls and tomato sauce and put half of it in a casserole/oven dish. Drizzle about 1/3 of the vegan cheese over the pasta and pour the rest of the pasta with sauce on it. Spread the rest of the vegan cheese all over the pasta. Put it in the oven (180°C) for about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with fresh basil.

If you would like some more veggies in this pasta dish, you can always add some bell pepper and eggplant.

Sopranos inspired baked ziti | De Groene Keuken #vegan #veganmofo #vgnmf15


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