For my grandmas birthday my mother and I recreated some Olive Garden favorites to bring to the party. Momma was in charge of all the non-vegan dishes and I was tasked with the salad and bringing a vegan pasta option.
The salad is pretty self explanatory. I held off on putting non-vegan additions like parmesan, Olive Garden dressing, and the croutons on until I had grabbed myself some salad. I loaded mine up with nooch instead of parm and used a homemade lemon tahini dressing. My favorite part though was the vegan penne!
What you’ll need:
- 2 Packages of penne. I chose Banza penne noodles because I love Banza! Their noodles are made from chickpeas so they are loaded with nutrients and also naturally gluten free.
- Some plant based milk. Mooala is my go to! I love their simple ingredients and the taste is pure joy.
- 2 jars of marina (or you can make your own).
- 1 package of Miyokos mozzerella because its delish!
- 1 package of tofu (14oz)
- 1 lemon
- 1 garlic head peeled and minced
- Some basil leaves, de-stemmed
- Nutritional yeast. Bragg’s is the best!
We’re going to make our vegan ricotta first:
Start off by draining your tofu. Then you’ll want to press it to get the water out. I place mine on a plate, covered by a towel for absorbtion, then place something heavy on the top. In my case I use more of my plates because they are stoneware and heavy! Let the tofu press for 15 minutes then drain and cut the tofu in pieces so it can be processed easily.
Throw the tofu in a food processor or blender with high speed. Add 1/4c nooch, some fresh basil ( I used the whole package minus stems because I love basil), the juice of 1 lemon, 3 tbsp plant based milk, and 3 garlic cloves peeled and minced. Process together until creamy.
Now for the pasta portion:
Make sure your oven is set to 400 because we will be ready to start baking soon! Boil a large pot of water. Once boiling set heat to medium or medium low to ensure a constant low boil. Toss in some salt and your two boxes of Banza. Boil for 4 minutes then remove from heat and rinse. It’s totally normally for the Banza to foam! That’s the chickpea action!
The grand finale:
Cut up your Miyokos mozzarella into small cubes.
Grab a large bowl. Add 1&1/3 container of your marina sauce, half of your miyokos mozzarella, and all of the ricotta. Mix well. Then add all of your penne. Mix together.
Next grab a dish to bake in! I used an 8×8 ceramic bake dish that I got from World Market years ago. Everything fit perfect.
Add a small layer of marina (about 1/3 of one jar to the bottom) then add your entire bowl of your penne, ricotta, mozzarella, and marina mixture to the dish.
Top it off with the rest of your marina by spreading it evenly over the top. Then toss the remainder of your Miyokos mozzarella on top. Cover with foil and bake for 40 mins. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 mins. Voila 😉 Delicious vegan penne bake to bring to your Olive Garden inspired birthday party!