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creamy vegan pasta bake

April 21, 2013

Serves 6
Prep time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Pasta bake overhead

Crunchy bits!  Creamy bits!  That’s what it’s all about.

I love pasta bakes so much.  They never look pretty but who cares, when you have roasted veggies, fennel seeds, toasted garlic chunks and a crunchy breadcrumb topping?

When my older daughter was eating this she said, ‘Mm, mummy I love the pasta bits that are all stuck together with cheese.’  She didn’t believe me when I told her there was no dairy in it.  Didn’t that make me feel like the smug vegan cook?

I made two sauces, one creamy/cheesy and one tomatoey, and marbled them together with the penne. The result is a little bit like a lasagne that someone has dropped on the floor and hastily scooped back in the tray.  The flavours are similarly gorgeous, but the whole thing is that bit quicker and easier to put together since you don’t have to take time constructing careful layers but instead can just throw everything in the tray and give it a brief stir.

In this recipe I did what I said I’d never do, which is to add fake vegan parmesan.  The thing is – and granted, perhaps it’s my tastebuds gradually forgetting what real cheese ever tasted like – but I don’t know… Redwood’s Parmy is really quite convincingly parmy to me.  Anyway, you could also do without it and just have olive oil-drizzled breadcrumbs on top.

Pasta bake main pic

350g wholemeal penne
Garlic, 3 cloves, each chopped into 4-6 chunks
Tinned tomatoes, 1 x400g tin
One aubergine, chopped into 2cm chunks
Half a head of broccoli, cut into bitesize pieces
One red onion, cut into eighths
Olive oil, 4 tbsp, plus extra for drizzling
Fennel seeds, 1 tbsp
Cashews, one cup, soaked in water for 3-8 hours
Silken tofu, 1 x 350g carton
Non-dairy milk, 1/2 cup
Nutritional yeast, 6 heaped tbsp
Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp
Miso, 1-2 tbsp to taste
A few handfuls of fresh breadcrumbs
Vegan parmesan such as Redwood’s Parmy (optional)
Pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C.

First roast the veggies.  Toss the aubergine and onion with 2 tbsp of olive oil, the fennel seeds, salt and pepper.  Roast on a baking tray for about 25 minutes until browned all over.  Halfway through the cooking time take the tray out of the oven, add the broccoli, plus another tbsp of oil, and stir everything up together.  Take them out when they’re ready and scrape them all into your pasta bake dish, including all the stuck-on fennel seeds.

Boil a large pan of salted water and cook your pasta according to packet instructions, until done but retaining some bite.  Drain and add the pasta to the bake dish.

In the meantime make the tomato sauce: heat the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan, add the garlic chunks and fry them over a high heat for 2-3 minutes until golden.  Then add the tomatoes, a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper, and simmer gently for about 20 minutes until thickened.

Lastly, make the cheesy sauce: in a food processor or high-speed blender, process the cashews, milk, nutritional yeast, tofu, mustard, miso, and salt and pepper.  Adjust seasoning, adding more miso/nooch/salt/pepper as necessary until it tastes nom.

Dump the two sauces into opposite ends of the baking tray and give everything just a brief stir, until all the pasta bits are covered in some sauce.

Sprinkle breadcrumbs and vegan parm, if using, over the surface.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Put back into the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden and crisp on top.  Leave to sit for five minutes before serving.


From → Mains, Recipes

  1. I find pasta bakes endlessly satisfying. Even when they’re not the ‘best’ or don’t feature my ‘favorite’ ingredients, I still feel happy when I’ve eaten one!

  2. YUMMO! I wonder if you could bypass the pasta and just use very fine julienne carrot and zucchini (from raw) in this? I might have to give it a go 🙂 Cheers for the fantastic idea for the sauces 🙂

    • Worth a try! The zucchini might release quite a bit of water though, not sure how well that would mix with the sauces… only one way to find out for sure I suppose 😉

      • What about if I was to dehydrate the stringy bits of zucchini first? Then they would just suck up sauce and that might work?

      • Definitely worth a go I’d say 😉

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