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.



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!


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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!


Asparagus + Kale Stuffed Shells

I'm going to let the photos do most of the talking today.




I'm just sitting here with my mom trying to soak in every last minute she's in Colorado.  I feel so fortunate to have had her here for an entire week and my dad + brother over the weekend.  However, it always goes by way too fast.  

Last night, we shared this comforting spring meal and it truly hit the spot.  Instead of stuffing the shells purely with ricotta, I filled them up with asparagus + kale for added texture and veggie-love.  It's a nice way to make stuffed shells a bit more interesting.  I also whipped up a double batch of my homemade red sauce, and while the shells were baking I made my favorite lemon basil pesto sauce from the Sprouted Kitchen cookbook.  Seriously addicting stuff.  And if you're questioning the use of pesto on top of marinara, let me just tell you, you must give it a try.  A favorite combination in this house and a cinch to throw together.

This weekend sounds like the perfect time to enjoy a homecooked meal.  Don't you think?


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Asparagus + Kale Stuffed Shells 

gluten-free // yields 6-8 servings

adapted from: spaghetti squash stuffed shells

  • 1 box gluten-free jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 1/3 cup full-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon ghee/oil 
  • 2 cups finely chopped lacinato/dino kale, lightly packed
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped asparagus, 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder granules
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt + black pepper
  • ~8oz fresh mozzerela, cubed
  • ~48oz thick marinara sauce
  • pesto, optional
  1. Add ghee or oil to a large pan over medium heat.  
  2. Once hot add the asparagus and cook for about 3-4 minutes stirring frequently.  Stir in the kale for 30 seconds, until just wilted. 
  3. Pour out onto a large plate and let cool.  You can speed this up in the fridge if needed.
  4. Cook your pasta shells al dente, according to package directions.  Rinse with cold water to help prevent sticking.  *Make sure not to overcook because they will cook a bit more in the oven.
  5. Mix the ricotta, kale, asparagus, parmesan, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper until combined.  Start with 1/4t salt + pepper.  Taste, then add more if needed.
  6. Preheat your oven to 350* and take out a 9x13 pan and a 9x9 pan, or a variety of single serving oven-safe bowls.
  7. Pour out just enough sauce to coat the bottom of each pan.
  8. Gently fill each shell until the mixture is flush with the bottom. ~30-32 shells  The amount may vary depending on what brand you use.  I used Tinkyada, which are the only GF shells I can find.
  9. Place the shells stuffed side down in the pan so that they are slightly touching one another.
  10. Coat the top of each shell with a scoop of sauce.
  11. Place mozzarella [about 1/2-inch cubes] around the shells.
  12. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 15min.  Uncover and bake for another 15min.
  13. Turn your broiler on low, move pans to the top rack and broil for 3-5 minutes watching closely until the cheese is bubbly.
  14. Garnish with fresh pesto, basil, or parsley if desired and serve hot.

notes:Make sure to use a thick pasta sauce to avoid excess liquid in the pan.  I made a double batch of my favorite red sauce recipe cooked it for about an hour and then blended it with my immersion blender and let it simmer a bit longer until thick.  This meal can be prepped ahead and stored in the fridge for 2-6 hours before cooking.  You may need to add a bit more sauce before baking, as it will soak into the noodles.

As a side note, I'm sure you can easily make this recipe vegan using tofu.  Check out this recipe [I've used before to make vegan lasagna--so good] as a guide! 


If you're looking for Mother's Day breakfast/brunch/dessert ideas, head on over to my Mother's Day photo album with recipe links on Facebook!  I've featured 12 recipes that are sure to please your mama's [or grandma, friend, dad, sister, wife, husband, child, etc.] tastebuds!

Happy weekend!