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Tag Archive: Italian

On Love and Garlic Knots

November 5, 2017 Leave your thoughts Print this page

Every autumn as the leaves start to change, a sudden itch to bake pops into my mental periphery. I find myself daydreaming in class about French pastries and cinnamon, fantasizing about the ways I could reinvent chocolate chip cookies or braid a loaf of challah. As my friends can tell you, this is the season where the communal Tupperware container makes frequent appearances, gracing its audience with piles of brownies and cake slices. To me at least, fall and baking go hand-in-hand, and no autumnal meal would be complete without a sweet or bread-y sidekick.

As I stand in my kitchen stirring a caramel sauce or kneading dough, my mind turns reflective. In these repetitive motions, I think. A lot. And every fall, for some reason, I think about love.

Maybe it was because fall was the season when I first literally fell from someone. It was seventh grade, when I had the poofiest hair and biggest chutzpah you’d ever seen. I had a huge crush on this kid in a few of my classes, and one day, I decided to call him up and ask him to hang out. (Spoiler: he said yes, but to this day, it was truly one of the most awkward nights of my life.)

Honestly? Mistake. What was I thinking?! I was twelve and already a loud, ballsy feminist. The world of teenage boys was certainly not ready for adolescent Abby, who was ready for a mature man while still wearing peace sign scarves from Justice. Even though I commend my younger self for being so confident, I do wish I had waited. Because my very sensitive little heart got very disheartened when things didn’t go as planned.

After that, my love life was basically nonexistent until senior year, when I tried to give “romance” another try. I let myself be vulnerable and was honest with my emotions — which was kinda badass, I guess. But I got really, really badly hurt. It was the wrong time, and I picked the wrong person.

I got to college thinking things would be different. Boys would be more mature! Someone out there would be looking for an independent, quirky, strong-willed woman like myself! And I laugh. I’m sure people are out there, they gotta be. But so far, I have been disappointed. Young people are so into hookup culture, and I, as a closeted 40-something, am not. College students can be so wishy-washy and last-minute about things and people and plans. And even though it’s 2017 — where women should be able to ask out men (or other women!) without it being weird — initiating and being forward has never gone well for the potato. Ugh.

Part of it is patience. I’ve just gotta let go and let love find me. And sure, I can be all yoga-y about it and say, “I am a complete individual on my own, I do not need anyone to complete me. What you seek is surely seeking you, don’t be attached to ideas or people. Let the universe take you where it shall.” But you know what? That’s not really how I feel most of the time.

How do I feel? I feel frustrated. I feel frustrated that I still scare people away because I have opinions and personality and spunk. I feel frustrated that people still don’t respect my time. I feel frustrated how seemingly little people can seem to care. I feel frustrated that all of that — the inconsistency, the blasé spontaneity, the forgetfulness — is somehow okay. I feel frustrated that this is the same trope I’ve been experiencing since the first time I ever asked someone out seven years ago.

And you know what? It’s okay for your feelings about life and love to not be tied up in a perfect little box with a ribbon on top. It’s okay to be angry and frustrated and salty with the way societal norms are. It’s okay to want love and want to be loved and cry about it not being there in the way you want. It’s okay to have emotions, even “negative” ones.

So I guess that’s why I turn to carbohydrates. Because quite frankly, carbohydrates never fail to satisfy the romantic love I crave.

Apologies for the rant. I am truly an optimistic, upbeat person 90-95% of the time. But I think it’s important to share that 5-10% of pessimism, saltiness and frustration, because our multifaceted nature only makes us more endearingly human.

Anyway, to me, there is nothing more tender than biting into a fresh cookie, biscuit or roll. That doughiness, that warmth, that butteriness just melts all of the frustration away. One cannot possibly be sad whilst eating a homemade baked good: that is a scientific fact.

So, when I was feeling sad and nervous and anxious and disheartened last week, I made garlic knots. Because garlic can cure anything, I’m convinced.

I had such a fun time making these for my friends. My favorite part was tying them, because look at how cute they are! And each one is a little different. I find it simply adorable.

These are certainly a labor of love, but that’s my favorite part about baking. The more care you put into it, the more love you taste when you bite into that finished product. And having hot, crispy, chewy garlic knots last weekend was worth every second I put into making them.

Some notes! Please use bread flour. Bread flour means chewy, crispy garlic knots. Just get your butt over to Whole Foods and do it. And use lots of garlic. I actually adapted my recipe from the first time I made it to include more garlic. You wouldn’t want to make out with a vampire, anyway. (Sorry, I was never into Edward Cullen.)

Bony African feet! (Bon appétit in meme slang.)

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Garlic Knots

Ingredients

Prep Time 2 hr 30 min
Cooking Time 20 min
Total Time 3 hr
Yield 16 garlic knots

FOR THE KNOTS:

1/2 tbsp sugar

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water (~110 degrees)

2 tbsp EVOO

2 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

4 cups of bread flour

FOR THE GARLIC DRIZZLE:

8 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 stick of salted butter (1/2 cup)

1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped

Directions

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar, yeast and warm water. Make sure the water isn’t too hot, or else the yeast will die! Stir together with a spoon and let sit until the yeast are nice and bubbly, about 10 minutes.

Add the olive oil, salt, garlic powder, and 1 cup of the bread flour. Stir together with a spoon or the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer. Keep adding flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough is thick. Knead with your hands on a well-floured work space or with the dough hook in the stand mixer until smooth and not sticky, about ten minutes. If the dough still clings to your fingers or palms after kneading, add more flour, 2 tbsp or so at a time, until it stops sticking. If the dough seems dry and crumbly, add more water, 1 tbsp at a time, until it becomes smoother.

Lightly oil a clean bowl with some olive oil and put the dough inside. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 90 minutes – 2 hours.

Once doubled, put the dough on a well-floured work space. Cut in half, then cut in half again. Cut each piece into four quarters, trying to keep each piece the same size. If you have a kitchen scale, use it! Simply weigh the whole dough ball and divide by 16 to determine your individual roll mass. If not, no worries, just eyeball it the best you can.

Place the dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

When the 30 minutes are up, take a dough ball and, on a well-floured work space, roll it into a rope about 7-8 inches long. Tie it just as you would a knot. If you have excess dough after tying the knot, tuck it under the formed roll. Repeat with remaining dough balls.

Place back on baking sheet, cover with a tea towel, and let rise for another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the garlic and parsley, stir, and let cook for a minute. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid, and let steep while the rolls rise.

Once the rolls have finished their final rise, lightly brush them with half of the garlic/parsley butter. Let bake until golden brown on the outside, about 18-20 minutes.

Brush with the remaining half of the garlic/parsley butter upon exiting the oven. Let cool for a few minutes, then serve immediately.


We’ll see when love will find me. But until then, I have garlic knots and some incredibly kickass friends to keep me company.


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Garlic Knots

November 4, 2017 Print this page

Feeling knotty? Then make these simply scrumptious garlic knots! You’ll never need to go to your local shady pizzeria again.

Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients

Prep Time 2 hr 30 min
Cooking Time 20 min
Total Time 3 hr
Yield 16 garlic knots

FOR THE KNOTS:

1/2 tbsp sugar

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water (~110 degrees)

2 tbsp EVOO

2 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

4 cups of bread flour

FOR THE GARLIC DRIZZLE:

8 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 stick of salted butter (1/2 cup)

1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped

Directions

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar, yeast and warm water. Make sure the water isn’t too hot, or else the yeast will die! Stir together with a spoon and let sit until the yeast are nice and bubbly, about 10 minutes.

Add the olive oil, salt, garlic powder, and 1 cup of the bread flour. Stir together with a spoon or the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer. Keep adding flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough is thick. Knead with your hands on a well-floured work space or with the dough hook in the stand mixer until smooth and not sticky, about ten minutes. If the dough still clings to your fingers or palms after kneading, add more flour, 2 tbsp or so at a time, until it stops sticking. If the dough seems dry and crumbly, add more water, 1 tbsp at a time, until it becomes smoother.

Lightly oil a clean bowl with some olive oil and put the dough inside. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 90 minutes – 2 hours.

Once doubled, put the dough on a well-floured work space. Cut in half, then cut in half again. Cut each piece into four quarters, trying to keep each piece the same size. If you have a kitchen scale, use it! Simply weigh the whole dough ball and divide by 16 to determine your individual roll mass. If not, no worries, just eyeball it the best you can.

Place the dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

When the 30 minutes are up, take a dough ball and, on a well-floured work space, roll it into a rope about 7-8 inches long. Tie it just as you would a knot. If you have excess dough after tying the knot, tuck it under the formed roll. Repeat with remaining dough balls.

Place back on baking sheet, cover with a tea towel, and let rise for another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the garlic and parsley, stir, and let cook for a minute. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid, and let steep while the rolls rise.

Once the rolls have finished their final rise, lightly brush them with half of the garlic/parsley butter. Let bake until golden brown on the outside, about 18-20 minutes.

Brush with the remaining half of the garlic/parsley butter upon exiting the oven. Let cool for a few minutes, then serve immediately.


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Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables

August 2, 2016 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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All of those colors can only mean one thing: summer is here! Huzzah!

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Look, I love summer. Don’t get me wrong. I love that it’s light out so late and the farmer’s markets are teeming with fresh fruits and vegetables. I love being able to practice yoga whenever I want and having the time to catch up on all of the pleasure reading I’ve missed over the course of high school. I love singing and playing my ukulele in the grass and listening to Iron & Wine and Bob Dylan in my room. But holy crap I want summer to be over.

As you know from my relentless complaining, senior year kinda sorta really sucked. Nothing really horrendous happened, but so many bad little things piling up one on top of another totally tanked my year. Sometimes, there’s bad energy that settles and you have to wait for it to pass. Life is a balancing act: you have periods of where lots of good things happen, periods where lots of icky things happen. It all evens out in the end, but it doesn’t feel that way when you’re in a moment of suckitude. And this year was one big moment of suckitude.

I was really ready to go at the end of my junior year, and unfortunately, senior year wound up being sloppy seconds. I made a bunch of mistakes and lost several of my closest friends, which stunk. I know people come and go, for life is an ebb and flow, but it felt like so many people were going this year. I felt disconnected, and the aha moment where everything clicked again never came. I like spending more time alone than with others, but there’s a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. And the latter feels yuck.

I don’t usually get embarrassed about things — hell, I came to school dressed as a giant tomato once — but for some reason, I feel ashamed about this year. I felt the claws of my old anxiety sinking back in as the embarrassment swirled in limitless circles in my head. I feel foolish, and I know I’ve been particularly unkind to myself recently, something I’ve struggled with for years. I want to shake it all away but it stays as I meditate and play my favorite songs by The 1975. I hate it. I thought I had moved on from this!

That’s the thing with anxiety. It’s two steps forward, four steps back. Sometimes it eats you. Sometimes you make sure it gets served. But when you’re in it, it makes you feel insecure, regretful, misunderstood. It pushes people away for you. It makes you think everyone hates you. But still, you soldier on and smile when you can, because you know you are better than your anxiety, and one day, the switch will flip and your thoughts will become rational again. It’s a practice.

I just want to be college Abby already. The Abby who, wearing a leather jacket with a yoga mat slung over her shoulder, runs into someone she knew from high school on the subway and grins because she’s a city girl now. The Abby who goes to concerts on Monday nights in Williamsburg. The Abby who carries a thoughtful little journal in which she writes existential haikus in Washington Square Park. I know that Abby is coming soon — 26 days, to be exact — but it all just seems so far away. And it’s frustrating.

You know what the best way to channel your frustrations is? Gnocchi!

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I find the process of making gnocchi so therapeutic. It might seem tedious to some people, but to me, there’s nothing more relaxing than rolling out potato dumplings.

My dad and I attempted to make gnocchi for the first time when I was in fifth grade. Let’s just say our foray was not exactly successful. All I can remember is that the process was messy and confusing, and when we dropped our “dumplings” in boiling water, they disintegrated. Whoops. My mother, queen of cleaning, vowed that we would never make gnocchi again on account of such a disaster.

Years later, I tried again on my own, and this time, my gnocchi worked. (My mom actually liked them, to her surprise!) Over the past year or so, I’ve gradually been refining my gnocchi technique, learning how to put together the tastiest plate possible with a variety of colors and textures.

Most Italian chefs take a simple approach when it comes to serving gnocchi, usually serving the dish with pesto or a very simple cheese or tomato sauce. While there’s something to be said about showcasing the gnocchi pretty much on its own, I like serving these soft, chewy dumplings with lots of vegetables for some varied flavor and texture. I don’t like dishes that are all soft; rather, I like my meals to be crunchy and smooth and everything in between.

By pairing the gnocchi with roasted tomatoes, zucchini, corn, and basil, you not only get a ton of veggies in your dinner, but also the joy of having a party of flavor in your mouth. While I loved this combo, I look forward to making gnocchi later this summer with eggplant, peppers, and other tasty produce.

Gnocchi might seem intimidating, but don’t be scared! The first time you make it, I highly suggest setting aside an afternoon to conquer your project. You’ll feel much better with extra time on your hands.

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Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables

Ingredients

Prep Time 1 hr
Cooking Time 1 hr
Total Time 2 hr
Yield 4-5 servings

For the gnocchi:

2 lb starchy baking potatoes (about 2 large baking potatoes)

1 egg

1 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

For the vegetables:

2 lb cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cloves of garlic, smashed

2 large zucchinis or summer squashes, halved and sliced into half moons

1 head of basil, leaves finely slivered

2 cups of fire-roasted corn or 2 ears of grilled corn, kernels separated

1/4 cup of olive oil, divided, plus more to taste

2 teaspoons of salt, divided

1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

For the gnocchi:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake until tender, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Let the potatoes cool for just a few minutes upon removing from the oven, then peel off the skin and discard.

Using a ricer, food mill, or box grater, process the potatoes. Dust a clean workspace with plenty of flour and spread the riced/grated potatoes in a thin, even layer atop the flour. Let cool.

Meanwhile, beat together the egg, 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Once the potatoes are cool, form them into a mound and make a small hole in the center. Pour the egg mixture into the hole and, using a large fork or your hands, incorporate the egg into the potato.

Pour flour in, 1/2 cup at a time, until a slightly sticky dough begins to form. (I highly recommend using a dough scraper to incorporate all of the flour!) Towards the end, add the 1/4 cup of cheese. If you feel the dough is too sticky, add more flour — but don’t go overboard!

Remove the dough ball and re-dust the workspace with plenty of flour. Using a sharp knife or dough scraper, cut the dough ball into six equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then roll the ball into a log about 1/2 inch wide. Cut the log into 1 inch long rectangles.

Gently roll and squish each rectangle so it’s a decent-looking dumpling. A lot of people roll the gnocchi against a fork to create ridges, but that’s too fussy for me, so I just leave them as is. It saves time in an already labor-intensive recipe.

Repeat the process with the remaining dough balls. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and place the gnocchi atop them until you’re ready to boil them.

For the veggies:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease two large baking sheets with olive oil. On one sheet, toss the tomatoes with the garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of salt. On the other sheet, toss the zucchini half moons with the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Roast both in the oven until the zucchini is golden-brown and the tomatoes begin to bristle, about 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside.

To assemble:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi, 1/4 of the batch at a time, and remove from the pot with a slotted spoon when each dumpling floats to the top. Place the cooked gnocchi in a large bowl.

Once all of the gnocchi have finished cooking, add the roasted vegetables, corn, cheese, basil, and a little drizzle of olive oil to taste. Toss together and add a little salt and/or pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately.


Here’s to potatoes, vegetables, and letting go to move forward. See you soon, loves. <3

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Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables

July 25, 2016 Print this page

If I were a food, I’d be gnocchi: a happy potato dumpling! 🙂 While the gnocchi takes some time to prepare, the result is so worth it: fresh, chewy, slightly doughy pasta with fresh notes of basil, the sweetness of corn, and umami zing of roasted tomatoes and zucchini.

Inspired by this recipe

Ingredients

Prep Time 1 hr
Cooking Time 1 hr
Total Time 2 hr
Yield 4-5 servings

For the gnocchi:

2 lb starchy baking potatoes (about 2 large baking potatoes)

1 egg

1 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

For the vegetables:

2 lb cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cloves of garlic, smashed

2 large zucchinis or summer squashes, halved and sliced into half moons

1 head of basil, leaves finely slivered

2 cups of fire-roasted corn or 2 ears of grilled corn, kernels separated

1/4 cup of olive oil, divided, plus more to taste

2 teaspoons of salt, divided

1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

For the gnocchi:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake until tender, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Let the potatoes cool for just a few minutes upon removing from the oven, then peel off the skin and discard.

Using a ricer, food mill, or box grater, process the potatoes. Dust a clean workspace with plenty of flour and spread the riced/grated potatoes in a thin, even layer atop the flour. Let cool.

Meanwhile, beat together the egg, 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Once the potatoes are cool, form them into a mound and make a small hole in the center. Pour the egg mixture into the hole and, using a large fork or your hands, incorporate the egg into the potato.

Pour flour in, 1/2 cup at a time, until a slightly sticky dough begins to form. (I highly recommend using a dough scraper to incorporate all of the flour!) Towards the end, add the 1/4 cup of cheese. If you feel the dough is too sticky, add more flour — but don’t go overboard!

Remove the dough ball and re-dust the workspace with plenty of flour. Using a sharp knife or dough scraper, cut the dough ball into six equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then roll the ball into a log about 1/2 inch wide. Cut the log into 1 inch long rectangles.

Gently roll and squish each rectangle so it’s a decent-looking dumpling. A lot of people roll the gnocchi against a fork to create ridges, but that’s too fussy for me, so I just leave them as is. It saves time in an already labor-intensive recipe.

Repeat the process with the remaining dough balls. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and place the gnocchi atop them until you’re ready to boil them.

For the veggies:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease two large baking sheets with olive oil. On one sheet, toss the tomatoes with the garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of salt. On the other sheet, toss the zucchini half moons with the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Roast both in the oven until the zucchini is golden-brown and the tomatoes begin to bristle, about 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside.

To assemble:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi, 1/4 of the batch at a time, and remove from the pot with a slotted spoon when each dumpling floats to the top. Place the cooked gnocchi in a large bowl.

Once all of the gnocchi have finished cooking, add the roasted vegetables, corn, cheese, basil, and a little drizzle of olive oil to taste. Toss together and add a little salt and/or pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately.


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Vegan Spinach Cannelloni

July 7, 2014 Print this page

Do you see all of that cheese in there, from the ricotta inside to the mozzarella on top?! There is no way this thing is vegan. But it is. And you don’t miss the dairy or regular pasta at all in this cannelloni: it’s just as cheesy, indulgent, and flavorful as its heavy Italian counterpart.

Ingredients

Prep Time 1 hr
Cooking Time 30 min
Total Time 1 hr 30 min
Yield 6 servings

1 recipe of Basic Tomato Sauce, or 2 1/2 cups of your favorite tomato sauce

1 recipe of Vegan Ricotta Cheese

2 cups of spinach, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon of olive oil

12 gluten-free lasagna noodles or pieces of thinly-sliced zucchini

1 recipe of Vegan Mozzarella Cheese

Directions

Prepare the tomato sauce and set aside to cool slightly.

Prepare the ricotta cheese.

Rinse and dry off the spinach. If you got big leaves, chop it up a bit–if you got baby spinach, don’t bother.

Heat up the olive oil in a small saucepan, and when hot, add the spinach. Saute just to slightly wilt, only a minute or so, then immediately remove from the heat. Transfer to a bowl or plate and let cool to room temperature–you can speed up the process by putting it in the fridge.

Once your spinach is cool, place it over a fine mesh strainer in the sink and squeeze out as much water as you possibly can. Then, transfer it to a cutting board and chop into smaller pieces. Stir the spinach into the ricotta “cheese” and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once bubbling, add in the lasagna noodles–I used brown rice because I tolerate it well and there are just three ingredients (rice, rice bran, and water). Use whatever noodles float your boat–or substitute thinly sliced zucchini, if you’d like. 

Here’s the trick: cook your pasta for ONLY five minutes. This ensures that it’s pliable but still not cooked on the inside. Your cannelloni will be spending 30 minutes in a hot oven, so you want to leave the pasta very al dente to prevent it from becoming a mushy mess later on.

Once the five minutes are up, strain the pasta and rinse well with cold water to stop the cooking process.

Prepare the mozzarella cheese.

It’s now time to assemble! Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Take out a 9 x 13 dish and pour (approximately) 1 cup of your prepared tomato sauce on the bottom. Use a spatula to spread it out.

To roll the cannelloni, take one lasagna noodle and lie it flat on a clean surface. Add a large scoop (about 2-3 tablespoons) of the prepared vegan ricotta “cheese” and use the back of a spoon to spread it out. It should cover 3/4 of the noodle, not the entire thing.

Then, using a good amount of torque, roll up the noodle with the filling inside. Place it seam-side down in the dish with the tomato sauce and repeat with the rest of the lasagna noodles.

The cannelloni should fit snuggly in the dish.  Cover the top with another cup and a half of tomato sauce, then use a small spoon or ice cream scoop to put the vegan mozzarella “cheese” over the top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked through and the sauce is bubbling. To get the cheese on top to be golden-brown, brush it with a little olive oil and put it under the broiler for a few minutes.


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