The whole family will love this easy, creamy Vegan Pasta Bake. It's a no boil pasta recipe, filled with tomatoes, zucchini, spinach, and your favorite pasta, and topped with cashew cheese. Easy to make ahead, making it the perfect weeknight dinner!
Every day is a good day for pasta, but today is all about this Vegan Pasta Bake. I adore my vegan mushroom pasta and eggplant pasta recipes, but I wanted to make something to serve a crowd. Well friends, this is it!
It's made in a casserole dish and serves at least 6 people, especially if you're serving it with a side dish.
Why you'll love this recipe
- It's made using the "no boil" technique, which makes this recipe even easier.
- Filled with veggies like tomatoes, zucchini, spinach, along with marinara sauce and cashew cheese, making it hearty, healthy and delicious.
- Requires less than 10 minutes of prep work!
- A vegan/vegetarian dish that's incredibly filling despite being meatless.
- Pasta - I opted to use Trader Joe's gluten free brown rice penne pasta, but any kind of pasta will work (gluten free or regular pasta). I do recommend using something similar to rigatoni, penne or fusilli and NOT long spaghetti noodles.
- Garlic - No substitutions, and yes, I DO recommend using 5 garlic cloves! I mean, is there really such thing as too much garlic? (Answer: no).
- Spices - A little bit of oregano, salt and red pepper flakes go a long way.
- Vegetables - I used a combination of zucchini, grape tomatoes and spinach, but you could easily use mushrooms, eggplant or even butternut squash if you prefer.
- Sauce - Arrabbiata sauce is my FAVORITE pasta sauce, so that's what I used. Be sure to use your favorite variety of jarred red sauce, whether that's tomato basil, roasted garlic, or traditional marinara.
- Cheese - A little vegan parmesan along with the vegan cashew cheese make this dish creamy and extra delicious.
Step 1: Add the pasta. Pour the pasta, marinara sauce and water into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Step 2: Sauté the spinach. Next, heat the olive oil in a skillet, then add the garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes and stir for 1 minute. Then, add the spinach and sauté for 30 seconds. It's ok if it isn't completely cooked; you just want it to be slightly soft. Transfer mixture to the bowl with the pasta.
Step 2: Stir everything together. To that same bowl, add the zucchini, tomatoes, salt, and vegan parmesan cheese and stir everything together really well.
Step 3: Bake the pasta. Grease a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray, then pour the pasta mixture into the dish. Use a spoon to press the noodles down, ensuring they are completely coated in the sauce/water mixture. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil, then bake the pasta at 400° for 40 minutes.
Step 4: Make the cashew cheese. While the pasta is baking, make the cashew cheese. Boil cashews for 15 minutes, then drain them, rinse them with water and transfer them to a blender. Add the remaining cheese ingredients, and blend until the mixture is smooth.
Step 5: Add the vegan cheese. Remove the pasta from the oven, then dollop the cashew cheese over top. Place the dish back into the oven uncovered for 15-20 more minutes. Top everything with fresh basil and enjoy!
Expert tips and tricks
- When you remove the pasta from the oven, it may look a little watery, but have no fear! Let the pasta sit for 10 minutes out of the oven and the pasta will continue to absorb any liquid.
- Make ahead tips:
- To make this ahead of time, simply prep everything as the recipe states. Then, once all of the ingredients are combined in the mixing bowl, place it in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 48 hours ahead of time. When you're ready to bake the pasta, pour everything into the casserole dish and add more water as needed, ensuring the pasta is covered with water (though be careful not to add TOO much).
- You can make the cashew cheese ahead of time too. Simply make the cheese, then pour it into a glass jar and store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it.
- Add-ins/substitutions: Though this recipe calls for zucchini, tomatoes and spinach, you can definitely use other vegetables if you prefer! Try adding mushrooms, eggplant or even broccoli instead! For the mushrooms, make sure to sauté them for 1-2 minutes before adding them in.
What is No Boil pasta?
No boil pasta is a way to cook pasta completely in the oven without boiling it first. It's a pretty awesome technique, and it saves you time from having to pre-cook the pasta. Instead, just dump it into a casserole dish and bake!
What does the vegan cashew cheese taste like?
Good question! I've often said my cashew cheese recipe is comparable to vegan mozzarella. But, I shared this recipe with my neighbors who had never had cashew cheese before and they said it tasted similar to ricotta cheese. Either way, it's creamy and very delicious.
What should I serve this with?
- Refrigerator: Store any leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 6 days.
- Freezer: This vegan pasta bake IS freezer-friendly. Simply bake the pasta, then let it cool before slicing it into portions and placing them in a freezer-safe containers.
More vegan dinner recipes
If you made this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and star rating below. Thanks!
Creamy Vegan Pasta Bake
- 1 lb. pasta penne, rigatoni, ziti, fusilli; regular or gluten free
- 24 oz. marinara sauce
- 2 cups water or more as needed; see notes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 large zucchini or 2 small; chopped
- 1 cup grape tomatoes
- ½ cup vegan parmesan cheese shredded or grated
- ½ teaspoon salt
- fresh basil for garnish
for the vegan cheese:
- 1 cup raw cashews
- ½ cup almond milk or milk of choice
- ½ cup dairy free yogurt plain
- 2 ½ tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- First, pour the pasta, marinara sauce and water into a large mixing bowl; set aside. Next, preheat the oven to 400° and grease a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes and sauté for 1 minute. To that same skillet, add the spinach and sauté for 30 seconds, then remove the skillet from the heat and pour everything into the bowl with the pasta.
- Add the zucchini, tomatoes, salt, and vegan parmesan to the bowl and stir everything together really well, ensuring the pasta is coated in the sauce.
- Pour the pasta mixture into the greased casserole dish. If any pasta noodles are sticking up, add 1-2 tablespoon more water, and use a spoon to press them down. Cover the dish with foil, then place it in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. (see notes below if using gluten free pasta)
- Meanwhile, make the vegan mozzarella cheese: pour the cashews into a saucepan and cover them with water. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil the cashews for 10-15 minutes; drain, then rinse them and transfer them to a blender. Add the remaining cheese ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth.
- Once the 40 minutes is up, remove the pasta from the oven, then pour/dollop the cashew cheese over top. Place the dish uncovered back into the oven for 15-20 more minutes.
- Remove pasta from the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes, which will allow the pasta to absorb any remaining liquid. Top with fresh basil and enjoy!
- Traditional: bake for 40 minutes, then remove, add the cheese and bake for 15-20 more minutes
- Gluten free: bake for 35 minutes, then remove, add the cheese and bake for 10 more minutes
- Refrigerator: store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 6 days.
- Freezer: wait for the cooked pasta to cool, then slice it into portions and place them in a freezer-safe container