Vegan Baked Ziti

I have never had vegan baked ziti. When I had this thought, it honestly shocked me. I remember that this buffet staple is rich and delicious, but how can I really remember if I haven't eaten it in over 3/4 of a score (I'll leave you to the math). I've made vegan lasagna before, usually with tofu ricotta, however this dish will have tangy cashew-based ricotta.

I happened to make my own marinara sauce, but you could easily use a jar of your favorite vegan pasta sauce in this recipe. However, the freshness of the basil and the texture of the whole tomato and onion really adds a necessary counterpoint to the creamy sauce.

This ended up making 2 8x8 pans, so I froze the second pan for leftovers for me to eat on a lazy day in the future!

Vegan Baked Ziti
1 box ziti
1 package Daiya Mozzerella shreds

Marinara Sauce
1 bottle passata (24 oz)
1 tomato on the vine (diced)
1 bunch fresh basil (chopped, with some reserved for garnish)
1/2 medium onion (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
fresh ground black pepper

Vegan Ricotta
1 1/2 C cashew pieces (soaked at least 4 hours)
1/2 C + 2 Tbsp water
1 lemon (juice of)
1/4 C nutritional yeast
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp garlic powder
dash white pepper
1 tsp dried oregano (crushed)
fresh ground black pepper

0. Preheat oven to 350 F.
1. Prepare the marinara: In a medium saucepan add 2 tsp EVOO and heat to medium. Add onion and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring to ensure it doesn't burn. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute, stirring. Add tomato and cook 1-2 minutes. Add passata, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook for 20 minutes on low, stirring occasionally. Add basil, cook another 5 minutes. Take off heat and set aside.
1. Prepare ricotta: Add drained cashews, water (start with 1/2 C and add additional Tbsps if necessary), lemon, nooch, garlic, garlic powder, oregano, salt (a good bit--this is cheese) and peppers to a high speed blender. Pulse until it is creamy. Set aside.
2. Prepare pasta: Cook ziti al dente according to the box. Drain and toss with 1-2 tsps of oil. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl (or the large pot you boiled the pasta in) add ricotta and fold in 1 C mozzarella. Add pasta and lightly toss. Add 3/4 of the marinara sauce and lightly toss. It shouldn't be homogenous (evenly mixed).
4. In each oiled baking add some pasta, top with a handful of cheese, another layer of pasta, then marinara sauce, and top with the rest of the cheese (see lower picture).
5. Bake for 20 minutes, and let sit 5 minutes before serving. Top with more fresh basil and vegan parmesan if you have it.