Easy "cheesy" pasta bake
One thing nearly everyone misses the most as a transitioning or new vegan is cheese. When I first stopped eating meat and dairy, it wasn't meat that I missed the taste of the most- it was extra strong cheddar cheese, especially melted on pizzas or grated on top of pasta. I have tried time and again to recreate it as best I can with vegan "cheese" (veese? cheaze? whatever floats your boat) and it hasn't been much to write home about- until this pasta dish. Give it a whirl, especially if you're really missing cheese; it'll never taste exactly like cheddar but it's the next best thing. Promise.
We all know what's really hidden in dairy... (and if you don't check this out). So here's my lovely antibiotic-free pasta bake.
250g wholewheat pasta (any shape, but penne or fusilli hold the sauce well)
Head of 1 broccoli, diced finely into very small chunks
2 leeks, sliced
1 large red onion, diced
50g frozen peas
100g fresh spinach
For the Sauce:
1 tbsp vegetable stock powder
1 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp turmeric
0.5 tsp salt
1 tbsp Vitalite (or any dairy free "butter")
500ml dairy-free milk (I used soya, you could use cashew or oat for extra creaminess)
100g Vegan cheese, grated or finely chopped (I recommend this one)
200g Vegan soft cheese
1.Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Boil pasta in salted water.
2. As the pasta boils, saute the leeks and onions together in a little water and the vegetable stock until they begin to soften. Add the spinach after 5 minutes to wilt down.
3. Place the raw diced broccoli, peas, cooked pasta and the leek/spinach/onion mixture into a baking dish.
4. Make a roux for the sauce: melt 1 tbsp Vitalite in a frying pan and add the flour, garlic and turmeric, mixing to form a paste.
5. Cook on low for around a minute, then gradually add the dairy-free milk a little at a time, whisking to get rid of any lumps of flour.
6. When all the milk has been used, add the vegan cheese and vegan soft cheese to the sauce.
7. Simmer on low, stirring continuously until all of the cheese has melted.
8. When the sauce begins to thicken slightly, add it to the pasta and vegetable mixture and combine together in the baking dish. Make sure the sauce has thickened to your desired consistency, as it won't thicken up more in the oven.
9. Cover with foil, then put the baking dish in the oven for 20 minutes.
Serve with extra vegan cheese grated on top if you wish (there's no point worrying about calories at this point, that ship has sailed) and a little cracked black pepper. I put chilli flakes on mine too because I live on the edge.
Hope you enjoy it guys, let me know!