Pasttttta bake.. it’s one of my go-to’s when meal prepping for my partner! It’s also my favourite because it’s so simple, you can add any vegetables you like and it’s also incredibly satisfying taking the first spoonful out of a freshly baked pasta bake (Crispy crust – you hear me?!)
The cheesy vegan béchamel is also my favourite, it’s so quick to whip up and is a great recipe to have on hand when in need of a super fast cheese sauce alternative.
This baby is full of flavour and you’d never think it was vegan.
Anyway, if you try it – let me know! I love seeing your photos and hearing your feedback.
Lentil, Tomato & Pumpkin Pasta Bake
250g dry weight pasta (I used shells, but penne would also work)
1/2 of a medium butternut pumpkin, cubed
1 tbsp oil
1 brown onion, finely sliced
250g button mushrooms, roughly chopped
1-2 handfuls of roughly chopped spinach or kale
1 tbsp coconut sugar
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground fennel
1-2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 1/2 tsp vegetable boullion/stock powder
salt/pepper to taste
1x 400g can lentils, rinsed and drained
1x 400g can of crushed tomatoes (**I used a basil & oregano flavoured can of tomatoes, but plain is fine!)
1 cup salt-free tomato paste
salt/pepper to taste
1 tbsp vegan butter
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/4 c plant based milk (more if needed)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
A few extra tbsp of plant based milk
salt & pepper
1. Pre heat your oven to 190C.
2. Cook the pasta by following the package directions until al dente, rinse under cool water once cooked and set aside in the same pot you cooked it in. At the same time boil or steam the cubed pumpkin until tender, set this aside.
3. In a frying pan, lightly fry the onion in oil until fragrant. Add the coconut sugar & spices and fry until the onion begins to caramelise. Add the mushrooms to the pan and a little water to prevent any sticking. Sauté until the mushrooms are slightly tender.
4. Remove from the heat and add all of this to the pot of pasta you set aside at step 2 along with the pumpkin, drained lentils, tomato paste, canned tomatoes and spinach/kale. Mix until well combined. Transfer to a large casserole/baking dish.
5. Prepare the béchamel by melting the vegan butter over a medium-high heat. Once melted, add the flour and whisk to form a roux. Let this simmer for 30-60 seconds until it bubbles (don’t let it burn) then slowly begin to add 1/2 of the plant based milk. Whisk continuously until the mixture thickens, then slowly add the remaining milk and whisking until no lumps remain and it is silky smooth. Adjust the liquid to suit your desired consistency.
6. Once all the milk is combined and the sauce is smooth and creamy remove from the heat and add the nutritional yeast, onion/garlic powder and salt and whisk until the nutritional yeast is fully dissolved. The Nutritional Yeast would have thickened the sauce slightly, so add and extra tablespoon or two of milk to thin back out if needed.
7. Pour this generously over the pasta bake and bake in the oven uncovered for 25-30 minutes until golden.
** Optional: Top with grated vegan cheese, breadcrumbs and a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce before baking in the oven!