Traditional Italian food is often fried and loaded with cheese and refined carbs making it a total diet demolisher. So does that mean you can never enjoy the rich, gooey, flavorful goodness of pizza, baked ziti, or lasagna ever again? Of course not! But with inspiration from This Rawesome Vegan Life and the help of my partner in crime Stacey, we created a healthy alternative using cashews, sun-dried tomatoes, broccoli, zucchini, and Italian spices. Raw cashews surprisingly take on a very creamy, savory flavor when mixed with lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and spices. It’s a common base for many dairy-free cheese substitutes, even cream cheese! The sun-dried tomatoes and broccoli create a fresh, lighter version of classic oil-filled pesto to compliment the heavier cashew “cheese.” Seriously y’all, I loveeee pesto, but I think this may be my new favorite! Although it may seem complicated with all the different components of the recipe, I promise it only took us under an hour to prep, cook, and clean (all just in time for our weekly Scandal viewing!)
Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats
1/2 cup diced tomatoes or tomato sauce
sprinkle of non-dairy cheese, optional (I tried almond cheese for the first time this week, but I also love daiya or Trader Joe’s brand)
1/2 cup raw cashews
juice of one lemon
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
salt, pepper, rosemary, oregano to taste
Sun-dried Tomato and Broccoli Pesto
1-2 cups broccoli (steamed and chopped)
handful sun-dried tomatoes
1-2 tsp olive oil (if the tomatoes aren’t packed in oil)
salt, pepper, basil to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Prepare the cashew “cheese” by putting all ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender until smooth. Remove and set aside.
3. Prepare sun-dried tomato and broccoli pesto by putting all ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender, I preferred it on the chunkier side so I used a medium speed setting. Remove and set aside.
4. Cut zucchinis in half and scoop out the seeds to make room for the fillings.
5. Fill zucchini with tomatoes and then layer in cashew “cheese” and pesto (we alternated a dollop of each).
6. Optional, sprinkle your choice shredded non-dairy cheese.
7. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and zucchini is softened.