Vegan Pasta Bakes is one of those meals that sounds like a great mid week easy peasy meal…but actually it’s quite time consuming to make. We love it, that’s for sure, but it takes some time. You can use meat if you wish, but you’ll need to brown it for longer. If you are using Vegan Mince then do be aware that everyone we’ve seen says don’t reheat. So that means no leftovers. To be honest, my husband has reheated leftovers and doesn’t get what the issue is – but we’ll go all ‘elf and safety’ and say don’t do it!
One rant…Quorn Mince has egg whites. Why it’s always displayed in the ‘vegan’ section or beside vegan mince is beyond me. Be very careful if you are egg allergic – you need to read the labels carefully for Quorn. There are some Quorn products that are safe, but not the mince.
We’ve used two different Vegan Minces with this recipe and they were both really good – ‘Naked Mince without the Moo’ and Waitrose Vegan Mince. The Waitrose Mince is soya free which we like, but does have gluten. The Naked Mince without the Moo is soya based. I think the ‘Naked without the Moo’ mince gives a more meat like texture, but I prefer the Soya Free option.
There are several parts to this recipe – make the tomato sauce, brown the vegan mince and mix with some of the tomato sauce, make the cheese sauce and then stuff the pasta shells, cover with cheese sauce and bake.
With Vegan Mince the browning process is different than with meat. First off there’s virtually no fat, so you need to add more oil than you expect. As it’s low fat it also tends to stick rather to the pan. You’ll get use to it – just keep the heat low and don’t leave it alone. The mince changes colour when it’s cooked. I did find the Naked Moo took quite a while, so do stick with it.
If you’re organised, you can make the sauces earlier in the day and then just do the pasta and mince later in the evening. I like to keep a portion of tomato sauce in the freezer as it’s great for a quick lunch with pasta and grated vegan cheese.
If you fancy Vegan Mac and Cheese take a look at our recipe Here:
Vegan Pasta Bake
- 1 Onion (finely chopped)
- 4 Cloves Crushed Garlic (less if you don't like garlic)
- 600 ml Pasanda (whizz some tinned tomatoes until smooth)
- 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
- 2 tbsp Red Wine
- 1 tbsp Worcester Sauce
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
- 1/2 Cup Strong Vegan Vegetable Stock
- 1 Small Onion (finely diced)
- 3 Cups Non-Dairy Milk
- 1 Cup Nutritional Yeast
- 1 Cup Grated Violife Cheddar Cheese
- 1/2 Cup Vegan Mozzarella Cheese
- 1/2 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 3 tbsp Corn Flour
- 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 1 tbsp Dairy Free Margarine
- 250 g Vegan Mince
- 200 g Large Pasta Shells
- Preheat your oven to 180°C 350°C.
- Start by frying the onion in a little oil until it just begins to colour.
- Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two to ensure it's not 'raw' and bitter.
- Add in the Pasanda, sugar, red wine, Worchester sauce, Paprika and Vegan Stock. Stir and allow to simmer away for a good 30-40 minutes. Check it occasionally and adjusts the seasoning.
- Melt the margarine in a heavy-based saucepan and sauté the onion until soft and slightly coloured. Add in the yeast, grated cheese, cornflour, mustard and lemon juice and stir.
- Grab a whisk and slowly add in the milk whisking while you go. Whisk the sauce while it heats up…you’re not looking to get it boiling, but rather hot enough to have the cheese melt and make a lovely thick sauce. Heat it to the point that it's bubbling a bit at the edges.
- Once done, and cooling, you can cover it with cling film so a skin doesn’t form.
- Cook the Pasta according to the instructions and keep it to one side ready to stuff! I love the massive shells.
- Add some oil to a large, heavy-based frying pan and add your Vegan Mince. Fry until it's cooked (it will change colour quite a bit). You may need to add some more oil to ensure it doesn't stick too much. This process can take a good 10 minutes so be patient.
- Once cooked add in half of the Tomato Sauce and stir to combine - you can add a bit more if you like but make sure you leave enough sauce to cover the base of the baking dish you plan to use (or start by covering the base, and then mix in the rest of the sauce with the cooked vegan mince). Covering the base with sauce ensures the pasta doesn't stick.
- Cover the base of your pan with the leftover Tomato Sauce. Grab a teaspoon and stuff each pasta shell with the tomato mince mixture. Place each shell in the dish as you go.
- Once they are all stuffed pour over the cheese sauce and bake for 25-30 minutes in a hot oven.
- Serve with warm bread and a side salad.