I have been staring at this head of cauliflower all week long, not quite sure what I wanted to do with it. I kept wanting to make a casserole, but couldn’t decide what direction to go in. I ended finding inspiration in one of my own recipes – Spaghetti Squash with Vegan Mushroom Cream Sauce.
This pasta bake isn’t heavy or drenched in sauce, but is a great way to make an easy dinner that is both healthy and filling.
Cauliflower Pasta Bake with Mushroom Sauce
Ingredients: (serves 6 to 8)
- 1 package pasta (I used small shells)
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1 pint sliced mushrooms
- 3 cups unsweetened original almond milk (or other milk)
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1.5 teaspoons salt (or more to taste)
- 3 slices sourdough or other crusty bread
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon Earth Balance or butter
- pinch of red pepper flakes
Instructions: The only bad thing about making this is that you are going to get your kitchen dirty. Definitely not a one pot meal! Start by boiling a large pot of water to cook your pasta and cauliflower. I used these pretty colorful shells that I found in the bulk bins at my grocery store, but you can use whatever type you have on hand.
Once the water boils, add your pasta and cook for 5 minutes or so. With 2-3 minutes left in your cooking time, add the cauliflower to the pot as well.
Once pasta is al dente and cauliflower is beginning to soften, drain both in to a colander in the sink, and set aside to cool.
In the meantime, you can make your sauce. Start by adding sliced mushrooms to a pan over medium high heat, and sautéing in a bit of olive oil. Cook for about ten minutes until soft and brown. (Note: I didn’t have sliced mushrooms, so I chopped up 4 big portabellas!)
Once mushrooms are cooked, add 1 cup of almond milk and allow to simmer for a few minutes in order to condense and create a rich base for the sauce. Next add the nutritional yeast and the rest of the almond milk. Bring the sauce up to a simmer and allow it to cook and condense for about 10 minutes. The sauce will still be very thin and runny.
In a small separate container, combine 1 tbsp cornstarch with 1 tbsp water to make a slurry. Do not add the cornstarch directly to the sauce! Add the slurry mixture to the sauce and continue to stir – sauce should start to thicken immediately! Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
Last but not least, prepare the breadcrumbs! Take 3 slices of crusty bread (I used cracked sourdough – yum!) and tear into pieces. Add to a food processor along with garlic, Earth Balance, a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Pulse until bread becomes breadcrumbs!
In a 9×13 baking dish, combine pasta and cauliflower with the mushroom sauce and spread evenly. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
Top baking dish with breadcrumbs, and bake for 20 minutes at 325 degrees F.
The finished product is more of a tossed pasta dish than a casserole, and is perfect for a hearty meal that is still full of vegetables.
The sauce is light and creamy, and it’s hard to believe it’s vegan.
Red pepper flakes in the breadcrumb topping pack just the slightest kick, which I love. This meal is great for making ahead and baking on a busy night, or eating straight out of the oven.
Whenever you choose to make it – enjoy!