Vegan Penne Pasta Casserole

Don’t let the word vegan scare you off. This dish is delicious and nutritious and, if you want to add some chicken or sausage to it go right ahead. Make it your own!

 

 

With thanks to veganosity.com

Serves 6     Prep Time: 10 minutes     Cook Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:
1 pound of whole grain penne pasta
1 Tbsp of avocado oil (I used extra-virgin olive oil)
1 red onion – chopped
2 cloves of garlic – minced
1-15oz can of fire roasted tomatoes (I couldn’t find these so instead I used canned crushed tomatoes and added in some chopped up fire roasted peppers)
1/2 cup of water * (put the water in the empty crushed tomato can and swirl to capture the remaining tomato in the can. Pour into the pan with the tomato sauce)
2 tsp of Italian seasoning
1 tsp of ground sea salt
ground black pepper to taste
3 cups of baby spinach leaves (I chopped mine into smaller pieces) – pack the cups
1 cup of basil leaves – pack the cup
1/4 cup of breadcrumbs (this gets used a the end of the recipe)
Cashew Cream
1 cup of cashews ** ( I recommend pre-soaking them to soften them. Pour boiling water on the cashews and let them soak for at least 30 minutes. The longer they soak, the softer they get, the better they will pulverize)
3/4 cups of water
1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp of ground sea salt
ground black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and add the pasta. Cook for 7 minutes or until the pasta is al dente. Drain.
  3. In a large skillet heat the avocado oil on medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to caramelize. Approximately 10-15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and water*, and seasonings. Stir well. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Make the cashew cream. Put the cashews**, water, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a high powered blender and blend until the liquid is smooth and creamy. There shouldn’t be any pieces of nuts in the mix.
  5. In a large bowl add the pasta, spinach, basil, tomato sauce, and cashew cream and stir until completely combined. Spread in a large baking pan, cover with foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and evenly spread the breadcrumbs on top. Bake for 10 minutes or until the crumbs begin to turn brown.

Don’t want to go vegan? No problem, sprinkle your pasta with some freshly grated parmesan cheese. I added a kalamata olive and a giant caper to the finished product for fun.

 

 

 

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