Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Bake

I have been wanting to try a pasta dish with a red pepper sauce for a while and I recently came up with the idea for this one.  It’s a little different than the usual tomato or cheese based sauces you see, and lends itself nicely to a baked pasta dish.  The sweetness of the red peppers pairs so nicely with the tangy notes of the ricotta, creating a wonderful mix of flavors in each bite.

It may seem like a lot of ingredients and too many steps to make this dish, but the two sauces come together quickly in your blender or food processor, and it’s just a simple rinse in between blending them.  Boil the pasta, saute some onion, thaw and squeeze-dry some spinach and it can all quickly be tossed together and poured into a casserole dish.  Top with some mozzarella cheese and you’re good to go!  The sauces can even be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator for a couple days.  So this can be a fairly quick mid-week meal that is satisfying and filling, and will most likely yield leftovers.

This recipe is vegan and hearty, and delicious as is, but can also be adjusted to fit within your family’s own tastes and dietary needs.  Even if you don’t follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, I think you should give this recipe a go as it is written here.  You may just be pleasantly surprised at how much you love it.

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Bake 3

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Bake

Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Serves: 6 – 8

Ingredients:
1 box spiral pasta, cooked to package directions
1 – 2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 yellow onion, chopped and sauteed
Almond ricotta cheese (recipe below)
Roasted red pepper sauce (recipe below)
2 cups shredded non-dairy mozzarella cheese
Parsley flakes for garnish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the pasta, spinach, onion, ricotta cheese, and red pepper sauce.

Place this mixture into your casserole dish (deep round or oval casserole dish, or 9 x 13 rectangular casserole dish).

Cover the top with the shredded cheese and sprinkle with the parsley.

Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and allow to cook an additional 15 minutes or until the cheese is melty and browning beautifully.

Serve with your favorite crusty bread and enjoy!

For the Almond Ricotta Cheese:

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups almond flour or almond meal
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 tsp salt

Directions:
Simply place everything in a blender and blitz until super creamy and smooth.  Stop and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula if needed.

For the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
(credit for this sauce goes to a member of the facebook group What Fat Vegans Eat)

Ingredients:
1.5 cup raw cashew nuts, soaked in water for at least 4 hours and drained
1 roasted red pepper jarred in oil (or to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 red onion
3/4 cup water
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional) – see note below
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Directions:
Place all in a high-speed blender or food processor, and process until silky smooth.

*Note:  Nutritional yeast is NOT regular active yeast.  It is deactivated yeast that adds a nutty/cheesy flavor to vegan dishes.  It can usually be found at health food/organic food stores or online.  It is not essential in this dish and can be omitted.

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