Note: I used an authentic pasta from STI Fine Foods which even has a lot of vegan options. If you visit their site www.stifinefood.com, enter the code “theberardo” at checkout and you’ll get a discount on your entire purchase.
Let’s be honest, second to pizza – PASTA is one of the great things human beings can eat and I don’t mean “good for you” it just taste fantastic! Unfortunately, most of the delicious pasta dishes are full of gluten and carbs and usually includes heavy creams and cheeses, which is why you’re always left feeling like a Thanksgiving turkey after you eat it.
Luckily my friends at STI Finefoods have gluten free and vegan options but more importantly all their pasta is produced in Italy, so it doesn’t have all those preservatives us Americans like to use in our foods. For this recipe I’m going to show you how to make a Vegan Cheese Bake that’ll leave you satisfied but NOT uncomfortable…
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
- 1 container of Marinara Sauce (at least 24oz)
- 1 bag of Paccheri Pasta (or stuffed shells, manicotti, etc)
- 1 cup of freshly chopped mushrooms
- 2 chopped peppers and/or zucchini
- 1/2 cup of vegan mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup of vegan parmesan cheese
- Italian Seasoning (oregano, parsley, cilantro, garlic)
- Gardein Vegan “Chicken” Strips (optional)
- Avocado Oil (for baking)
COOK TIME (including prep): 45 min
First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. You’ll also want to have one medium pot (for veggies/sauce) and a large pot for your pasta. Set aside a 1/2 (at least) deep cooking pan for later.
Next, you’ll need to chop up the veggies (and vegan chicken) to a desired size so you can toss them in the sauce for later.
Fill the large pot with water and bring to a boil, then add your pasta. Cook on medium for about 12-15min or until the pasta is cooked to your liking.
After your veggies have been sautéing for about 10mins, transfer them into a medium sauce pan, then add marinara sauce, cover pot and simmer on medium.
Your pasta should be done by now. Strain the pasta, under some cold water (to prevent over cooking) then transfer them to your deep dish baking pan (below). Use a non-sticking spray or oil before adding the pasta to ensure it doesn’t stick to the pan after baking.
Things get really fun now! Feel free to add as much “guilt free” vegan cheeses to the dish as you’d like…sprinkle it, mix it, whatever you want! You’ll also want to add your Italian seasoning and avocado oil to the pasta while mixing so it can assist in the baking process.
Then top the pasta off with the marinara sauce (mixed with protein/veggies) into the baking pan. Mix in sauce and seasoning, spread evenly throughout the entire dish.
After you spread your sauce on the pasta, add more Italian seasonings, oil and cheese on top to give it a nice layer (you don’t want to mix this up).
Place in the oven and bake for about 15-20min. I normally like to bake until there’s 5min left, then BROIL it on HIGH the last couple minutes to give it a little crisp and help the cheese melt. Mmmmmmm!
This is a big dish and can easily feed close to 6 people or it can feed 2 people for a couple days – ENJOY! 🙂