Sunday, January 29, 2012

Baked Pasta Casserole

I love casserole's, one -pot wonder dishes. I also love pasta and always have several types in the pantry. This original dish called for shells but I used Rotelle (cork screw shaped pieces). I'm not sure where I found the original recipe for this but it wasn't vegan. Here is my version.
  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped, divided
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil  or a large handful fresh basil minced
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 package LightLife Smart Ground
  • 1 box of rotelle pasta (or whatever shape you prefer)shells
  • 1 jar favorite pasta sauce
  • 1 water or vegetable broth  
  • 5 ounces fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, about 1/4 teaspoon
  •  2 cups fresh Toffuti ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • Ener-G egg substitute (equivalent to 2 eggs)
  • 8 ounces of shredded mozzarella cheese (your favorite vegan kind)

To make the pasta layer: Saute 1 medium onion and 4 cloves of garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil.

Added spinach, grated nutmeg and season with a little salt.

Once this step is done, toss it all in a large bowl, set it aside and go onto the next step.

Now mix the Parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast and ricotta to the bowl with the spinach mixture in it.Stir well. Add the egg substitute.

Boil the pasta shells until they 1 minute shy of al dente. The pasta will finish cooking with the other ingredients in the oven. Drain well and add to the bowl of other ingredients. Set aside.

To make the meat sauce: Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the same skillet you used to cook the spinach mixutre in. Add the smart ground, a medium onion and 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, dried oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, dried basil and brown sugar. Add the jar of pasta sauce and one cup of water or veggie broth. (I just measured the water in the pasta jar so I could rinse all the sauce out of the jar). Simmer the sauce on medium heat for 10 minutes.  Taste the sauce for seasoning and if everything is good, turn the stove off and start assembling the casserole.

Assembling the Casserole:In a large oven safe baking dish spoon 2/3 of the pasta sauce.

Next put all of the pasta/spinach/cheese combo in an even layer.

Top the dish with the remaining 1/3 of pasta sauce.

Sprinkle with 8oz of mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees on the middle rack for 25-30 minutes.

Serve with a side salad and/or some bread if you wish and your favorite vino. Enjoy!


  1. This looks wonderful! Thanks for sharing the recipe. I will try this soon.

    1. Thanks Kathy - enjoy and thanks for visiting my blog.