A real treat of a meal, this vegan pasta bake ticks off all the comfort food boxes. Cosy, not too greasy, with rather a lot of slightly sneaky vegetables, but also heavy on the pasta and some vegan cheese. It’s flexible too – use different veg, any type of short pasta, canned tomato sauce if you’d like – you can make it to fit your taste exactly.
Top with plenty of basil if you have it, or parsley, as it does make a difference (or add some vegan pesto after it’s baked). See below for substitution and variation ideas and enjoy.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Vegetables: these are just an example. Use any vegetables you like, or have on hand: cherry tomatoes, aubergine/eggplant, greens like spinach (mix them in raw, no need to sauté first) are all excellent. In colder months, pumpkin and mushrooms are also quite good.
- Pasta: this works just as well with gluten-free pasta, so feel free to use your favourite variety. Just be sure to undercook it slightly as well – no need to change any of the steps in the recipe, just sub it right in.
- Cheese: vegan mozza is ideal for this recipe, if you can find a decent one. Pizza-style shreds work too, and it’s also good without the vegan cheese if you can’t get it.
- Tomato sauce: I use this spicy marinara but you might want to tone down the spice for kids. You can use any tomato sauce you like, homemade or store-bought.
Step by Step
Step 1: while you cook the pasta, cook the vegetables in a little olive oil and season well. See below for how to roast them in the oven rather than cooking in a frying pan.
Step 2: mix the cooked (drained, but not rinsed) pasta in a large baking dish with the tomato sauce and vegetables. Top with the cheese.
Step 3: bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top is golden and the cheese has melted. Serve hot.
You can also roast the vegetables in the oven if preferred. Simply use the dish you plan to bake the pasta in, and toss the veg with the oil and seasonings. Bake for about 20 minutes at 200°C (400°F), and once browned, mix in the pasta and sauce. This makes for less dishes but more oven time, so it’s a bit of a toss-up.
Vegan cheese has gotten quite good in the last few years and while it does still tend to cream-cheese like varieties, there are some decent mozzarella style varieties now. Some are certainly better than others. Pictured is from a brand out of Malmö and it’s pretty good but definitely not the best I’ve found. If you don’t have access to any, use something like a cashew parmesan instead or even some dollops of homemade vegan cream cheese.
How to Store
Storage: keep the fully cooled pasta in the refrigerator, covered well, for up to three days. Reheat as usual.
Freezing: transfer cooled baked pasta to an airtight container and freeze for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
- Use short pasta: this is simply not good with spaghetti, and I recommend penne, fusilli, rotini, maccheroni, or farfalle. Undercook it by a couple of minutes so that you don’t get soggy noodles once baked.
- Season well: as with all pasta dishes, it’s important to salt the cooking water well – it’s impossible to effectively season pasta if it’s been cooked in bland water.
- Make the sauce ahead of time: next time you make tomato sauce, cook extra and keep it for later to make this recipe. Or make it the day of (it takes about half an hour from scratch). This is a recipe that lends itself well to using pre-made sauce and it is a time saver.
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Vegan Pasta Bake
- 800 ml marinara *
- 300 grams dry penne or other short pasta
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 medium sweet pepper capsicum or bell pepper
- 1 medium zucchini (courgette)
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- 100 grams vegan mozzarella
- Fresh basil or parsley, to serve
- Make the marinara ahead of time if you're using homemade, and set aside. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and take out a large casserole dish (about 20x30cm or 8×12 in.).
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season well. Add the pasta and cook according to package instruction, reducing the cooking time by two minutes.300 grams dry penne
- At the same time, cook the vegetables. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Sauté the pepper and zucchini until lightly golden, 5-8 minutes. Season to taste and set aside.2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 medium sweet pepper, 1 medium zucchini (courgette), Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain it but don't rinse. Add the cooked pasta, marinara, and cooked vegetables to a large casserole dish. Top evenly with mozzarella.800 ml marinara, 100 grams vegan mozzarella
- Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the top of the bake is a light golden brown. Top with fresh basil or chopped parsley and serve hot. Leftovers will keep for a few days in the refrigerator and can be frozen.Fresh basil or parsley, to serve
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.