I’ve been trying to do some more make-ahead meals recently. Perhaps to prepare myself for October, when I assume we’ll be living off of rolled oats and whatever we can find in our freezer. It has been nice to cook dinner early in the day, and then simply pull it out and heat it up when we’re ready to eat – my evenings feel wide open!
I’ve never really been one for casseroles, simply because they tend to be really heavy, creamy, and too-much-cheesy for my taste. But I thought the idea of lightening up one of my favorites would be fun, and making a vegan cheese sauce to go with it felt like a good culinary endeavor for a Wednesday afternoon.
Any time I see vegan cheese sauces, they tend to be made with either fake vegan cheeses, or ground cashews. I don’t know about you, but I never have several cups of expensive cashews sitting around my house, and I never plan far enough ahead to remember to get them! So for this sauce, I tried something different and the result was nothing but light and delicious.
Vegan Broccoli Cheese Pasta Bake
Ingredients: (makes large casserole)
- 1 14oz package firm tofu
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp yellow mustard
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large head broccoli
- 1 16oz bag pasta
- 1/4 tsp paprika
Instructions: First things first, start a pot of water in your stovetop to boil your pasta. While you wait, let’s work on the sauce. The star of this cheese sauce is the unexpected…tofu! Take one package (drained) and add to your food processor.
Let it process so that it’s to a creamy consistency – should just take a few seconds.
Next add the nutritional yeast, mustard, garlic powder, and salt, and give a good whir. Do you see what I see?
Add almond milk and olive oil, and process into a smooth and creamy sauce. Add more salt if needed.
Once your water is boiling, cook pasta until al dente.
With 1-2 minutes left of cooking time, toss your broccoli florets into the pot with the pasta to allow them to cook for just a minute or two as well.
Drain both when pasta is al dente. You still want it to have a tiny bit of bite, as it will finish cooking in the casserole pan.
Transfer pasta and broccoli to a large serving bowl and add cheese sauce.
Stir to combine until evenly coated.
Pour mixing bowl into a large 9×13 casserole dish.
And garnish with 1/4 tsp smoked paprika. Love that red color!
At this point you can either cook and serve immediately, or put it in the refrigerator until later. To reheat, cover with foil and cook on 325 for 15 minutes. Depending on how long it has been in the refrigerator (or freezer), cooking time may vary.
Once warmed, scoop and serve!
I wasn’t sure how tofu would work for making a cheese sauce, and I was happy to find that the result was light, creamy, and most definitely cheesy.
Many vegan cheeses and sauces are nut-based, and tend to be really heavy and rich. While this one is surely full of flavor, it also didn’t leave me feeling weighed down.
Broccoli and cheese are like peanut butter and jelly. Am I right?
This is a great meal for making ahead or eating right away. The leftovers are just as delicious the next day!
As always, enjoy!