Dairy-Free Baked Ziti! This recipe will AMAZE you. The cashew cream sauce sets up just like ricotta – but totally dairy-free!
I feel like I’ve been holding out on you with this recipe. I’ve made this Dairy-Free Baked Ziti many times now and have perfected the recipe.
Believe me when I say it – this recipe will amaze you and fool anyone who tastes it!
I love hearty, cheesy pasta dishes and have really missed them since cutting out most dairy. Instead of a classic ricotta cheese mixture, this dish uses a dairy-free cashew and egg based “cheese”.
And before you get all confused about the eggs let’s remember – eggs are not dairy! People with food allergies will know the difference.
Eggs are often mistaken for dairy because of the 90s food pyramid and the “dairy” section of the grocery store. However, eggs are from chickens and dairy is from cows. It’s a totally different animal and protein.
I personally can eat eggs but can’t eat much dairy. Many people do better on gluten-free/casein-free diets. Eggs have no casein so this recipe is meant for people with dairy allergies or intolerances – not for vegans.
My dairy-eating family absolutely loves this pasta. Every time I make it my husband asks me if I used real cheese. You have to taste it to believe it! The cashew sauce will look liquidy and runny when you first make it, but will set up perfectly in the oven thanks to the eggs. So don’t be alarmed with it looks nothing like ricotta initially!
My favorite gluten-free pasta to use is the Jovial Brown Rice Penne. It’s my favorite gluten-free pasta and I always have it on hand. Not sponsored – just my favorite.
I hope you enjoy this dairy-free dish as much as we do! If you’re dairy-free but can eat eggs you should also try this:
For the Creamy Sauce:
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
For the Baked Ziti:
- 1lb gluten-free tubular pasta (I use this penne)
- olive oil
- 1lb Italian sausage (or ground beef)
- 1/2 large onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 26oz jar marinara sauce (I like Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil Marinara)
- 1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
Place the raw cashews in a bowl. Cover with boiling water (the 1 cup of water will be used later, just use enough boiling water to cover the cashews) and let sit for 30 minutes. You can make the pasta and tomato-meat sauce in the mean time.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Cook the pasta according to package instructions – but subtract a minute or so from the boil time so the pasta is al dente.
In a large skillet, add 1 tablespoon olive oil along with the Italian sausage and onion. Cook, breaking up into small pieces until browned and cooked through, about 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, marinara sauce and diced tomatoes. Cook until heated through for another 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat and set aside.
Drain the cashews and place in a high-speed blender. Add 1 cup of fresh water along with the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Blend until completely smooth. Add the eggs and blend until smooth. (The sauce will look very liquidy and runny but will set up in the oven.)
Add a scoop of the tomato-meat sauce to the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Spread out evenly. Mix the pasta with 1/3 of the remaining tomato-meat sauce. Pour half of the pasta into the pan. Drizzle over half of the cashew sauce followed by another 1/3 of the sauce mixture. Add the remaining pasta followed by the rest of the cashew sauce and tomato-meat sauce.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and bubbly. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!