Recipe inspired by: My mom
Recipe made by: Robbie Shorr
As mentioned before with regards to Mac and Cheese, sometimes you just need a cheesy layered pasta dish. Unfortunately, many of the recipes you’ll find online include meat. Crazy! Of course, one could just make these recipes without the meat. Or, one could use increasingly-abundant fake meat instead. That line of thinking is how this dish became a weeknight staple in my family. And it quickly became a household favorite: it’s yummy, filling, and sure to provide leftovers. Having some friends who are diehard fans of the Morningstar Farms® brand, I figured I might as well see if this recipe could be college-ified. And sure enough, it can be, all the while retaining the elements that make it a great comfort food.
- Ziti (between 16-32 oz, depends on how much you want to eat or have leftover)
- Mushrooms, sliced
- Garlic (minced or powder)
- Tomato sauce
- Your favorite microwavable fake meat products (I used Morningstar® Chik Patties® and Buffalo Nuggets®)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Cook the ziti according to the directions on the package. Make sure to have a big enough pot on hand.
- While the ziti is cooking, add olive oil to a pan over medium high heat.
- Add the mushrooms to the pan and season with salt, pepper, and garlic.
- Sauté the mushrooms until they are almost done, about 7 minutes.
- Add the spinach and season with salt, pepper, and garlic. It’s ok if there’s a lot of spinach, it will shrink drastically while cooking.
- Sauté for 2 minutes.
- While the veggies and pasta are cooking, prepare the Morningstar® (or whatever fake meat you’re using) according to the microwave instructions on the package. However, shorten the microwave time by about 30 seconds, as the fake meat will also cook while baking.
- Tear or cut the fake meat into bite sized pieces.
Putting it all together
- Pour the strained pasta into a baking dish.
- Pour the tomato sauce over the pasta and mix. This mixing doesn’t have to be so thorough, since there’s more mixing to come.
- Add the veggies, mozzarella, and most of the fake meat. Fold everything in, aiming for an even distribution.
- Top with the breadcrumbs, parmesan, paprika, and remaining fake meat.
- Bake at 350°F for 27-32 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
Why this recipe is good for college students: At first glance, this recipe seems daunting. After all, there are three aspects of the dish that need to be cooked. However, the ziti in the pot, the veggies in the pan, and the fake meat in the microwave don’t really need to be touched while cooking except for the occasional quick stir. Thus, all three cooking processes can be performed simultaneously, saving a lot of valuable time. And of course, while the ziti is in the oven no active supervision is required at all. Lastly, this dish will almost definitely last you a few days, so the time put in is well worth it.
Why this recipe is good for those who keep Kosher: Obviously, fake meat is the big plus here, allowing the creation of a meal with both cheese and protein. It also means that any dessert at all could follow this dish.
What I would do differently if I made this recipe again
- Two words: more cheese.