My name is Ashley McLaughlin and this is my blog, Edible Perspective. To learn more about my journey head on over to my about + FAQ pages. I'm thrilled that you stopped by. Enjoy!

 

 


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Wednesday
Jun192013

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

Reader Comments (34)

I just discovered your blog and the photography is absolutely gorgeous! I'm obsessed with it :) This recipe looks delicious. I love pasta! I haven't eaten meat in 3 days now and I'm excited to keep going. This recipe is on my list of things to try!
@Maggie - Whoa. I have NO idea how this post was posted while I'm in the middle of working on it! Ahhh! I set it back to draft mode until finished. Sorry about that! :)
June 19, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
This looks immense! Love it- and the simplicity of no pre-cooking is right up my street :-)
June 20, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjo @ including cake
You are so good to us vegans Ashley! Do appreciate it hugely :)
This looks phenomenal. How fun that the pasta cooks just under the sauce, no pre-cooking required!
June 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEmma
Hi Ashley! Ok, i think bloggers have to eventually HATE being asked..."what can i sub for x,y,z" in a recipe they worked hard to make, but i've got to ask b/c i'm wanting to make sure I'm thinking this through right...if i do not need a vegan version, i would simply use mozz. cheese on top instead of the tofu version, right? I know, i know, everyone is usually asking how to make something vegan and here you went to all that work and i'm asking how to "un-vegan" it, lol! Not b/c your first version doesn't sound AMAZING, but b/c i'd like to make it for supper and i have no tofu in the house, lol! Thank you! (p.s. your cornbread donut twists that i made for National Donut Night supper...the leftovers worked PERFECT from the freezer warmed in the microwave with a bit of real butter and maple syrup for my daughter...who would have thought she'd PICK a cornbread donut as her breakfast over pancakes that were sitting right next to it in the freezer, that says a lot! thanks again!)
June 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina
Ahh! Your version looks amazing Ashley! And I think it would fit in better with how I'm trying to eat now. Consider this made in the next couple days. Yum!
Yes, I NEEDED this recipe! Sound incredible, girl!
June 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTieghan
This sounds so amazing..That golden tofu on the top, would totally fool my husband into thinking they were biscuits. I will be making this.
June 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterErika
OK, this is seriously awesome! Such a creative recipe, but I love that the ingredient list is still short. Perfect dish for summer!
June 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarie @ Little Kitchie
@Emma - Aww, I'm so glad! :) Enjoy!

@Sabrina - Hahaa, no worries at all for the question. I completely understand! Yes, you could definitely replace the tofu with fresh mozz. Check out Ashley's version that I linked to as well! She used ricotta and mozz for hers. :) SO happy to hear about the cornbread doughnuts! Glad your daughter loved them so much and good to know they defrosted well for you. Thanks for letting me know!

edited to add: Just want to make sure you know I meant to just add pieces of fresh mozz on top and not blend it in your food processor with the other tofu ingredients. Not sure that would work, but it would work with ricotta cheese. :)

@Ashley - Thanks for the inspiration! So so simple! Let me know if you try this.

@Erika - Ha! That is so funny. Silly husbands. ;) I definitely think they look like biscuits!

@Marie - Trying hard to keep things simple lately!
June 20, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
Looks like a winner to me!
June 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaria
WOW looks great!
June 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
This looks fantastic! When I first saw the pictures from your recipe I was bracing myself for another cashew cream style vegan cheese which made me sad only because my husband's recently had some weird reactions to cashews. But this? This I can make and it looks absolutely tasty. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful recipe idea!
Ahhh you make the BEST food!! I've been trying to stay away from my oven, but this looks too good to resist. I've never tried making a "vegan cheese" before, but this tofu business looks so easy--I can't wait to try it! Lovely photography, as always :)
June 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterErika
YUM! I see dinner for tonight!
June 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaryz
oh man, this looks ABSOLUTELY amazing! I love it when you have vegan recipes. i will be sure to give this one a try!!
June 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDana @ VanishingVeggie
YUM! Sign me up... this looks fantastic! I agree, one pot dishes are the best :)
OMG! I'm dying at this recipe!! Droooooooool! I can't wait to make this!! Thanks for always creating such delish and beautiful recipes! You are keeping this vegan full and happy, one recipe at a time :)
June 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAshley
How interesting! I love your solution for how to make "vegan" mozzarella...this pasta bake looks beautiful!
I LOVE this idea of not boiling the pasta! How brilliant! Can't wait to try it out.
June 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKatie
Ashley, I have been with your blog for over two years now and have loved every minute of it! I do sometimes miss the old days when you were going through your day to day eats, though. I always loved the photography and fun, inspirational meals that you showcased throughout the day. Do you think that you will ever end up doing posts like these again, along with your current ones?


And as for this pasta... I know what I'm having for dinner tomorrow!!! Thanks :)
June 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTeddi Lund
I have accidentally had a new post go live while working on it! Though, I don't think anyone noticed on my site.

This recipe is a great take on baked pasta! And again, love your photography!
I love this twist on the caprese salad. It looks beautiful.
LOVE the idea of not cooking the pasta first, it is genius!
I made this at a dinner party and everyone LOVED it. It will DEFINITELY be in my dinner rotation. http://www.vanishingveggie.com/2013/06/vegan-cooking-for-non-vegan-house-guests.html
June 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDana @ VanishingVeggie
I have this in the oven with gluten free noodles. Beware that this may take much longer. It has been baking for 45 minutes in total so far and the spaghetti is definitely not soft enough to eat.
June 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLindsay
@Dana - So so glad to hear it!!

@Lindsay - Oh no! That's so strange. I've baked a few types of GF pasta successfully in the past. I hope it eventually turned out for you!
June 25, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
Would angel hair pasta work for this?
June 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNicole
@Nicole - It should! It just may cook a bit more quickly. Check at 20-25 minutes to gauge how "done" it is and go from there. :)
June 26, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
This was really fun and easy to make. The GF angel hair pasta worked great :)
June 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNicole
@Nicole - Fantastic!! SO happy to hear!
June 27, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
The photography hooked me first, the words "baked pasta" got me second and then the text of your post got me third. You were so aggressive saying we "need" this recipe that I couldn't resist but make it. I tried it , and I admit you were absolutely right! This is outstanding and the tofu mocked ricotta cheese with perfection. So delicious! I will definitely make this again. I think the only thing that could improve it would be to add layers of sliced eggplant. I'll do that next time! Thank you for the incredible yumminess and inspiration!
June 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShari
oh my gosh, this was amazing! i used my own red sauce and rotini instead of spaghetti. i just boiled the rotini briefly before assembling. the real star of this dish is the tofu! the texture is just unbelievably magical. thanks for the recipe!
November 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersharon
@Shari - So happy you were pleased with the outcome!

@Sharon - Awesome! I bet the rotini noodles were delicious. Glad you loved the tofu/ricotta!
November 3, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley

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