vegan caprese baked pasta

So, somehow this post went live while I was halfway through typing up the recipe. Not cool. No clue what happened.

Apologies if you were confused on where the rest of the post was.

I thought it would be nice if I shared the entire recipe and not just steps 1-4.

Because you are going to WANT this recipe. Actually, I think you NEED this recipe.

It's incredibly easy to prepare, creates a decent amount of leftovers, and is out-of-control comforting. Even on a hot summer night you will want this baked pasta for dinner.

Making your own sauce is highly recommended and much easier than it sounds. The only problem is you will never enjoy another store-bought sauce again.

Sorry?

I've always loved how easy the no-boil lasagna is to use but never ever thought to try the same thing with spaghetti noodles. When Ashley posted a baked pasta recipe recently I about fell over. No noodle cooking? All in one pan > in the oven > then into my mouth? Where do I sign?

However, in this version I did a few things differently.

I decided to make it more of a layered dish and wanted to keep it vegan. My mouth was set on "caprese" flavors, so I racked my brain on how to create a sort of vegan-mozzarella. I layered the sauce and noodles then topped the last layer of sauce with creamy tofu after blending it with just a few simple ingredients.

I would say it landed in between ricotta + fresh mozzarella, with a texture nearly identical to ricotta. I added a little tahini + nutritional yeast for a bit of nutty flavor as well as garlic, salt, and pepper.

The final outcome exceeded my expectations. The sauce + noodles formed a thick + doughy texture that I just couldn't get enough of.

The tofu turned to a light golden brown and firmed up quite a bit while the center remained soft and ricotta-like.

Fresh tomato + basil to top in true caprese fashion.

I just couldn't get over the flavor + texture from each bite.

My mouth was pin-balling back and forth. Flavor! Texture! Flavor! Shovel more food into my mouth!

Print this!

inspired by: {never}homemaker's Skillet-Baked Cappellini Pomodoro

Vegan Caprese Baked Pasta gluten-free, vegan // yields 4 servings

  • 8-10 oz spaghetti noodles, gluten-free if needed - I like Lundberg's
  • 5-6 cups thick marinara sauce, if using that recipe double it
  • 1, 14oz package extra firm tofu, drained
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tahini, or cashew butter
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • handful of basil, chopped

  1. Preheat your oven to 350* F.
  2. Slice the tofu into 4 slabs and gently squeeze each between a dry kitchen towel to remove some of the moisture.
  3. Place garlic clove in your large food processor and turn on to chop. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
  4. Add in the tofu, tahini, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper and turn the processor on for about 15-20 seconds until fully combined and paste-like.
  5. Coat the bottom of a 10-12-inch oven-safe pan with marinara sauce. ~1 1/2 cups of sauce
  6. Gather half of the spaghetti noodles and break them in half then spread in an even layer over the sauce.
  7. Cover with another layer of sauce, then spread the other half of the noodles.
  8. Add one more layer of sauce with a little extra on this layer, making sure the pasta is fully covered.
  9. Form small patties with the tofu mixture [about 1/2-inch thick and 2-inches wide] and place directly on top of the sauce filling up the pan. The tofu mixture is very soft/mushy and will stick to your hands. It's fine if they're not all uniform.
  10. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake uncovered for 10-20 minutes longer, until the pasta is tender and the tofu is starting to brown on top. Mine took 35 minutes total.
  11. Remove from the oven and set your broiler on low.
  12. Place the tomato slices over top and then place under the broiler for about 2-5 minutes until the tofu turns a light golden brown.
  13. Remove from the oven, top with basil, and serve hot.

notes/substitutions: Every time I make marinara sauce it's loosely based off the recipe linked above. Sometimes I throw fresh herbs in the mix, sometimes I use fire roasted tomatoes, etc. It has yet to disappoint. For this rendition: I used 2, 48oz cans of tomatoes [1 fire roasted, 1 whole peeled] and included all of the liquid instead of draining. I also used about 1/4 cup of tomato paste, dried basil + oregano, and fresh parsley [salt, pepper, sugar per the recipe]. I let everything simmer for 1 ½ hours and gently mashed it with a potato masher. If you have neither tahini or cashew butter I would recommend 2 teaspoons of olive oil instead.

 

Leftovers are calling my name. Possibly cold for breakfast. Super fancy.

Hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did!

Ashley