A rich, creamy simple and affordable vegan pasta bake that the whole family will love! Perfect served warm or great as leftovers the next day.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 medium red bell peppers / capsicums, cored and diced
- 2 tablespoons dried Italian herb mix (or a mix of parsley, basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme)
- 1 can / 400g / 14.10 ounces diced tomatoes
- 680g / 24 ounces passata
- Chilli powder, to taste (optional)
- 500g / 1.10 pounds rigatoni pasta, (penne or ziti are also great)
- Salt, to taste
- Firstly, prepare the cashews for the white sauce. In a bowl, add the cashews and pour enough boiling water to cover them. Set aside.
- In a large pot on medium heat, add the olive oil and onions and saute for a couple of minutes.
- Add in the garlic and saute for a further 1-2 minutes.
- Now add in the peppers and mix well. Cook for a further few minutes.
- Add in the herbs, diced tomatoes, passata, and 1 cup / 250ml of water (I’ll normally get the excess liquid out of the tomato can and passata jar with the water I use). Stir well and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius (390 degrees Fahrenheit).
- While the tomato sauce is simmering, cook the pasta. Add pasta to salted boiling water and cook a few minutes less than the required cooking time. My pasta box said 12-14 minutes, so I cooked it for 9 minutes. You want it to be slightly under as it will continue cooking in the oven. Drain when finished.
- Now to make the white sauce. Drain the soaking cashews and add the rest of the white sauce ingredients (except the tapioca starch) and blend until smooth.
- Separate half of the white sauce and add the tapioca starch to the blender, and blend for a few seconds to incorporate. The sauce in the blender will be your pasta bake topping. It should be around 550ml.
- Once the tomato sauce is finished, season to taste. Mix just enough tomato sauce through the pasta so that it doesn’t stick to each other – Around ½ cup. Now you’re ready to assemble in baking dish.
- On the bottom of the baking dish, add ½ cup of tomato sauce, followed by half the pasta. Pour over the half of the tomato sauce, followed by the white sauce (without the tapioca starch). Continue layering with the rest of the pasta, tomato sauce and topped with the other half of the white sauce (with tapioca starch). Spread evenly. It may seem like a lot of liquid, but don’t worry, the pasta soaks it up and it creates a rich sauce when done.
- Bake in the preheated oven for around 35 minutes. Or until the top has started to brown a little.
- Remove from oven and let sit for around 10 minutes before cutting into it if you want a clean slice. Otherwise, dig in!
- Diet: Vegan