VEGGIE MAC AND CHEESE FLORENTINE
Tofutti ricotta, cream cheese, sour cream and mozzarella singles combined with herbs and spices, fresh spinach and veggie elbow macaroni. Topped with fresh breadcrumbs flavored with olive oil and garlic, garnished with roasted pepper and baked till piping hot and crisped!
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
16 oz. container Tofutti Better Than Ricotta Cheese
8 oz. container Tofutti Garlic And Herb Better than Cream Cheese, or plain
1 c. Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream
3 T. fresh grated onion; peel onion and rub over medium holes of hand grater producing a liquidy pulp; measure 3 T. for this recipe
2 t. garlic powder
1 t. dry mustard
1 t. dried basil
1/4 t. red cayenne pepper
2 t. sugar
1 T. juice of fresh lemon
1-1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
6 Tofutti Mozzarella single cheese slices, broken into small pieces, plus 4 additional slices to top the casserole
2 T. instant mashed potato flakes
12 oz. box dried elbow macaroni, cooked in lots of sufficiently salted boiling water till tender, drained well (I used a veggie elbow macaroni product by Barilla with good results); return to empty pot
9 oz. bag fresh baby spinach leaves
1 c. fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. dried basil
1/4 t. salt
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
8 strips of sweet red roasted peppers, about 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide, for garnish
In large bowl combine the dairy-free ricotta, cream cheese and sour cream. Stir and mash with fork till well-mixed.
Add grated onion, garlic powder, dry mustard, basil, red cayenne pepper, sugar, lemon, salt and pepper. Mix well to disperse evenly, then salt to taste.
Break one slice of Tofutti mozzarella cheese at a time into cheese bowl, stirring after the addition of each slice.
Now sprinkle the instant potato flakes over the cheese mixture. Stir well to incorporate.
Add fresh spinach leaves to cheese mixture, stirring around, up, over and under till all leaves are coated with the cheese mixture and evenly distributed.
Add the cheese/spinach mixture to the cooked macaroni. Stir well, salt to taste, then transfer to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Distribute loosely and evenly.
Take the 4 additional mozzarella singles and cut in half. Place on top of casserole equally spaced.
In small bowl combine breadcrumbs, garlic, basil, salt and olive oil. Pinch and stir with clean fingers till all crumbs are moistened with oil. Sprinkle casserole evenly with breadcrumbs.
Place a roasted pepper strip on top of each cheese half.
Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake on middle rack of preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 minutes longer or till piping hot and top is crisped.
Remove from oven and serve immediately.
Notes: There’s no need to wait a few minutes before serving this dish, since you’re spooning it, not cutting it into squares.
The heat of the oven and the other ingredients cooks the spinach, so there’s no need to precook it before adding to casserole.
Variation: If desired add 1 c. diced fresh tomatoes (Roma works best) or 1 c. diced roasted pepper to cheese and macaroni mixture before transferring to baking dish.