The last time Chris came to dinner, at my request for ideas, he suggested Spaghetti-Ricotta Bake. Thinking of all the cholesterol Ed had consumed lately, I asked Chris how he felt about a cashew cream filling instead of ricotta. He said sure, and I substituted Vegan Cream Sauce for the ricotta. All three of us liked the results but agreed it was hard to choose the "cashew" version over the ricotta version and visa versa; they are both good in their own way. While the ricotta version has 183 mg of cholesterol (whole recipe), the cashew cream has no cholesterol and about half the saturated fat. However, the ricotta verson has about half the calories as the cashew cream version. Calories, of course, could be reduced by using less of the cashew cream.
Make the Filling
Make 1 recipe Vegan Cream Sauce
When chopping the cashews, chop a few tabelspoons extra and set aside.
Sautee, until spinach is just barely wilted:
1 T olive oil
4 c (5 oz) fresh baby spinach
Cook Spaghetti and Assemble the Dish
1 pound linguine or spaghetti (I use whole wheat)
until just barely al dente (see package for time and cook about one minute less than minimum).
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 T olive oil
1 T Italian herbs
When pasta is cooked, drain well and toss with oil and garlic mixture. Lightly brush the bottom of a 9” x 9” (or equivalent area) baking dish with olive oil . Put about 2/3 of the seasoned pasta in the baking dish and level the pasta. Spread:
then top with
(A package of frozen chopped spinach may be used instead. When using frozen spinach, thaw completely and remove as much moisture as possible; a good way to do this is to actually wring the spinach in your (clean) hand.)
Spread remaining pasta mix evenly over the ricotta/spinach.
For a vegan dish, spray the top of the pasta with a light coating of olive oil and then sprinkle the reserved chopped cashews evenly over the surface.
If vegan or zero cholesterol is not a goal, an alternative is to top with
Parmesan cheese, grated (photo left)
and the reserved chopped cashews (optional - photo at top)
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes or until top is browned and crispy.