Very Cheesy Vegan Ziti

It’s recipe time again!  I always look forward to these weeks because they stir my creativity in the kitchen, and I’m excited to share the results with you.  This week, I’ve prepared a dish that I’ve been considering since late last year!  I have been hesitant (maybe lacking confidence) because it’s the veganization of a delicious recipe by Mollie Katzen from Moosewood.  Back in my dairy-eating days, it was a favorite cool-weather dish.  Her recipe calls for butter, cottage cheese, cheddar, and buttermilk, and is called Macaroni & Cheese Lite.  (Her recipe was lite as compared with the recipe from which it was adapted.)

I’ve mentioned in past posts that I’ve found lots of really good subs for different types of cheese.  Cottage cheese is my latest discovery.  The first formula I tried was bad, I mean not even close.  Usually, I can salvage things that don’t turn out well by adding a little more of this or that, but this went right into the compost bin.  Thankfully, I found a version at Ela Vegan that is similar to real cottage cheese in both taste & texture, and I knew I could go forward with Mollie’s recipe once I tasted it.

While I’m giving credit, my super-tasty cashew sour cream was modified slightly from Angela Liddon’s recipe at Oh She Glows.

It would be easier if I used ready-made packaged vegan cheeses, of course.  But my body doesn’t like them.  If the difference between your trying my recipe and not trying it hinges on it, please use ready-made products!  (And because this is a big recipe, you might want to save it for the holidays, when others might be around to help you devour it & clean up afterwards!)

Cheese was one of the last things I gave up to become completely vegan.  I loved cheese, and I know many of you do.  But it’s unhealthy for so many reasons.  In the US, cheese often contains antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, herbicides, and other dangerous chemicals, all results of industrialized farming.  (And let’s not forget the inhumane treatment of the animals involved.)  Additionally, pasteurization of the milk followed by further heating in the cheese-making process kills many of the live enzymes that are essential for proper digestion and assimilation.  Making matters worse is the fact that it’s a mucus-producing food.  And although it has a great deal of calcium, cheese is acidic on the pH scale, and research shows that acidic foods can result in a very high excretion of calcium through urine, resulting in lower bone density.  (So, no, dairy is not good for healthy teeth & bones!) I could go on, but let me just wrap it up by mentioning that cheese and other dairy foods, due in large part to the inflammation they cause, can contribute to obesity as well as many other chronic diseases.

Back to the recipe.  I haven’t mentioned how yummy my veganized version is.  I believe Mollie herself would approve!

Very Cheesy Vegan Ziti

Yield: 6 – 8 servings

Ingredients (use all organic or non-GMO if possible)

For the cottage cheese: make an hour ahead of the rest & refrigerate
8 – 10 oz firm tofu, drained
1/2 cup vegan unsweetened yogurt
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp nutritional yeast

For the cashew sour cream:
1 cup cashews, soaked for 2 hours for easier processing
1/2 cup water (or as needed to achieve desired consistency)
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
heaping 1/4 tsp Himalayan salt, or to taste

For the rest:
oil for the baking dish
salted water for boiling pasta
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups yellow onion, small diced
3 med cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
4 cups green cabbage, shredded
1 tsp Himalayan salt
1 1/4 tsp caraway seeds
3 handfuls fresh spinach, chopped
12 oz ziti
all of cottage cheese from recipe provided
all of cashew sour cream from recipe provided
1/2 cup vegan yogurt
2 tsp dried dill
fresh ground black pepper to taste
handful of sunflower seeds


Make the cottage cheese at least an hour ahead of time & refrigerate to allow flavors to marry.  In a medium bowl, crumble the tofu, leaving plenty of texture to mimic curds.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the rest of the cottage cheese ingredients.  Pour the liquid mixture over the tofu, stir gently to combine, and taste for salt.  Chill for at least 1 hour prior to using.

For the cashew sour cream, if you have soaked your cashews, drain them well.  Add them, the 1/2 cup water, lemon juice, and salt to a small food processor & spin until completely smooth.  Taste for salt, lemon, & consistency.

Heat your oven to 350 F & lightly oil a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  Get the water started heating for the pasta.

Sauté the onions in the oil on medium heat in a large sauté pan for 5 minutes.  Add the next 5 ingredients (garlic – caraway seeds,) stir, and cover.  Cook until the cabbage is just tender, about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.  (If your stove is like mine, you may need to turn the heat down to med-low.)  Stir in the spinach and remove from heat.

Cook the pasta about 1 – 2 minutes less than your package directions, until barely tender.  (It will cook more in the oven.)  Drain well.  Place in a large bowl and stir in the sautéed veggies.  Add the next 5 ingredients (cottage cheese through black pepper,) stirring gently but thoroughly.  Taste for salt & other seasonings. Pour into your baking dish and sprinkle sunflower seeds evenly over the top.  Bake for 30 minutes.

Enjoy!  And please let me know if you give it a try! 😊

The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented herein. Any statements about the possible health benefits of any subject discussed have not been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.

47 thoughts on “Very Cheesy Vegan Ziti

  1. Thanks for the recipe, Lisa. Cheese was also the last favorite food that I gave up when going total vegan. Your recipe looks perfect for me to try out the Miyoko’s Organic Cashew Milk Mozzarella that I recently found at my local supermarket.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What is it about cheese that makes it so irresistible? It’s a tricky one for us non-dairy eaters, I agree. I buy a really nice vegan hard cheese at a supermarket here in South Africa. I haven’t yet delved into creating my own, but your recipe here looks like a tasty option. PS… I have a copy of Mollie Katzen’s The Enchanted Broccoli Forest on my shelf here at home! I’ve had it since the mid-90’s. It’s looking a bit well- worn, which it is, and well-used and well-loved 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, gosh, Hen, I’m glad it was successful too! I hated the idea of having to throw it out! That was probably one of the reasons it took me so long to try it – I was afraid of epic failure & food waste! I’d be willing to bet if you tried a good (homemade) cheese sub, your family wouldn’t know it wasn’t the real thing! Have a great week! 🌞

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh no Lisa… 😂 don’t give up my cheese too. You remember that… 💗 Moosewood was one of my very first vegetarian books. This looks really yummy and i really need to make a concerted effort to get back to cooking more vegan. I’ve been more lax and it takes more time but I did cook some tofu for the first time last week. I’ll get better.. thanks for the reminder.. 💞

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Molly Katzen’s were the first on my shelf of recipes, too, Cindy! It’s no wonder the Ithaca restaurant still does so well. The vegan cheese recipes I’ve collected over the years are outstanding. And OMG, tofu is sooooooo versatile! Especially when you’re making something with a nice thick sauce, like an Indian or Thai dish. Vegan cooking does take more time, but our bodies deserve it! To me, it’s as important as the time we spend washing up & moisturizing before bed at night. Have a great week, my friend! 🌞

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, I was pretty much out of the game with your first set of ingredients – beyond the salt, the rest sounded completely foreign to me ha. Some day you will convince me to expand my food options!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Looks like a yummy and comforting meal! And I feel you about wanting to do recipes for sometime. I get stuck in the same way because I get so insecure! But every time I finally try it, I asl myself why I waited so long.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, M&M! Great to see you! I’m always trying new things in the kitchen. I usually don’t consider doing a recipe for so long, but because the original was Mollie’s recipe (and therefore so perfect!) and it contained a lot of dairy that I needed to sub, that made this recipe different. But I am super pleased with the result! (Otherwise, I would have never shared it!) Hoping your week is superb! 🌞


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