Spinach Baked Ziti – First Vegan Dinner

I’m in a group on Facebook dedicated to support/advice for people on my team who are trying out this new, plant-based diet, and this is one of the recipes that was posted.  Rochelle and I actually made it on Saturday and I was very impressed!  This is absolutely delicious and we will definitely be making it again.  Plus we have a ton of leftovers, so we’ll get to eat some this week for dinner and we also froze some too for later.  I think it’s a good start to the vegan diet 🙂

1 Recipe of Mel’s Zesty Marinara Sauce (see below)

1 lb Brown Rice Ziti or Penne, cooked al dente

2 c. Cashew Cheese (recipe below)

1 cup organic, frozen chopped Spinach thawed (I use fresh spinach leaves instead)


Mel’s Zesty Marinara Sauce

1 red onion, diced

1 c. shitake mushrooms, sliced thinly

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. thyme

1 TBL Tamari

1 TBL Balsamic Vinegar

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

½ can tomato paste

2 -28oz cans Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes

Salt & Pepper to taste

2 tsp. Agave Nectar (leave out for cleanse or add 1 tsp xylitol)

2 TBL Fresh basil, chopped


In a stock pot heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté onion, garlic & mushrooms until soft & caramelized. Add thyme & oregano and stir to incorporate to release the herbs. Add crushed tomatoes & tomato paste. Reduce heat and simmer 20-30

minutes. Add tamari, agave & balsamic vinegar & stir well. Simmer 5-10 minutes more. Season with salt & pepper and top with fresh basil.


Cashew Cheese

2 cups cashews, soaked for 4 hours & drained

Filtered water

2 TBL Nutritional yeast flakes

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp ground mustard

1 TBL tahini

sea salt & pepper to taste


Place soaked cashews in a blender cup with just enough water to barely cover. Blend until very smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend. This mixture should be fairly thick, so if it’s too thin, add some more cashews. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Pour into a bowl and add spinach. Stir well to incorporate


Preheat oven to 400.



To Assemble:

Place cooked Ziti noodles in large bowl. Ladle in marinara sauce until well covered. Stir to coat. If you like more sauce, add more. Add 1 cup cashew cheese & spinach mixture and stir to incorporate. You can always add more if you want more. Pour into baking dish and ladle sauce on top to cover.  Sprinkle with additional nutritional yeast flakes. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes until heated through. Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.



  1. […] where we have tried some incredibly good recipes, some of which are posted here.  We’ve had baked ziti, vegan chili, eggplant marinara, vegan mac & cheese, vegan burritos, vegan enchiladas, […]

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