Ready for the richest, heartiest, most flavor packed meatless and dairy-free pasta dinner ever? You need to try this vegan baked ziti! With a chunky cauliflower walnut sauce and creamy cashew ricotta, this meal is sure to satisfy vegans and non-vegans alike!
Prepare the cauliflower walnut sauce according to the recipe.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook it according to the package directions. Drain the pasta into a colander, return it to the pot, and toss with a dash of olive oil.
To make the bechamel sauce, coat the bottom of a small saucepan with olive oil and place it over medium heat.
When the oil is hot, whisk in the flour.
Cook the flour, whisking constantly, until it darkens just a bit and begins to smell nutty, about 2 minutes.
Whisk in the milk and flour and bring the mixture to a simmer.
Lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer, whisking occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until it thickens up a bit.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the bechamel sauce to cool a bit. It will continue to thicken up as it cools.
While the bechamel sauce cools, make the ricotta. Place the cashews, milk, lemon juice, garlic, and salt into the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth.
Break the tofu into a few chunks and add it to the food processor. Pulse until the texture is chunky, like that of ricotta.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Layer one third of the cauliflower walnut sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
Layer half of the pasta over the sauce.
Layer half of the ricotta over the pasta.
Layer another third of the cauliflower walnut sauce over the ricotta.
Layer the remaining half of the pasta over the sauce.
Layer the remaining half of the ricotta over the pasta.
Layer the remaining third of the cauliflower walnut sauce over the ricotta, smoothing it out a bit with the back of a spoon.
Drizzle the bechamel sauce over the cauliflower walnut sauce, spreading it out a bit with the back of a spoon.
Place the dish into the oven and bake for 25 minutes, uncovered, until heated throughout.
Optional step: place the dish under the broiler for a few minutes, watching carefully to avoid burning, until the bechamel sauce starts to bubble and brown.
Remove the dish from the oven and allow it to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Divide onto plates and serve.