Tomato pesto pasta bake

This Tomato pesto pasta bake combines delicious and dairy free red pesto, homemade spinach stuffing to create a wholesome, delicious and cosy pasta dish. Kind of like cannelloni, but no fuss (I.e no stuffing pasta tubes)!

Each step is homemade, and filled with wholesome ingredients. Lets take a look at the different elements. You can make them all, or swap out the marinara for straight up pesto (to save time) and/or swap the cashew cheese for store bought.

Red pesto marinara

You’ll need canned tomatoes, red pesto, garlic, salt and olive oil to whip this up. I made this sauce using the Sacla Dairy free Red pesto- and was blown away by how much flavour it had. Sacla use tofu instead of parmesan to make it dairy free, and it goes so well in a toast, a nourish bowl, spread on veggies or pizza or of course in this easy vegan pesto pasta bake.

Time saving tip– You can absolutely swap the marinara for straight up red pesto. To save on time, swap the marinara recipe (see below) for 2 jars of Sacla Dairy free red pesto. Simple!

Home made fermented cashew cheese

I much prefer to make my own as it becomes a lot more affordable- my recipe here. Beware, you will need to get prepared a day or two earlier if you want to make the fermented cashew cheese, however you can make a simple, instant cashew cheese with this recipe.

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups cashews, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp white miso- optional.

Simple drain the cashews and place in a high-speed blender. Add all the other ingredients, and start to blend on low. Slowly increase teh speed, using your tamper to get things moving. Blend on high speed for 1-5 minutes (depending on your machine) or until silky smooth.

Alternatively, you can buy cashew cheese or vegan cream cheese. A much more expensive option, but a great one if that is available to you.

Fermented cashew cheeseCreamy spinach filling

The ‘stuffing’ (which you won’t be stuffing at all, but blobbing into the dish) is made from the aforementioned cashew cheese, greens, zucchini, onion, garlic, salt and olive oil.

I use home grown greens, and have tried the recipe with both kale and silverbeet/chard- both work well. If you cant get fresh greens then check out the freezer section at your local supermarket. Frozen spinach is affordable and works wonderfully here, just let it completely defrost before use. Since frozen spinach comes already precooked you will need to adjust the recipe slightly. Instead of cooking it in step 2, just add it to the pan at the end of the cooking process.

That is it! Now you just need to grab some pasta- any short pasta will do. I like rigatoni, but what you have will work.

I hope you enjoy making this for yourself, family or friends. As always, I welcome any feedback or comments below- your reviews help others find my recipes, so please leave one if you try this recipe.

If you are after other delicious vegan meals, then you might like:

Creamy vegan tomato basil soupVegan smokey chilli beans

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Easy vegan pesto pasta bake

Tomato pesto pasta bake

  • Author: Jade Woodd
  • Prep Time: 30 mins (not including cashew cheese)
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4-6 serves 1x
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian/American


Tomato pesto pasta bake that is made with dairy free red pesto and a creamy spinach filling.



Red pesto marinara

Spinach, zucchini and cheese stuffing

  • 1/2 brown onion, finely diced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 250g spinach
  • 250g zucchini, grated
  • 3/4 cup (180g) cashew cheese (*see blog post for homemade recipe) 
  • 500g Rigatoni


  1. Make the marinara. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add oil and heat for 20 seconds then add garlic and brown for an extra 30 seconds. Pour in tinned tomatoes, pesto and salt then bring to a boil and simmer (lid ajar) for 10 mins. You want to stir the sauce a couple times during this process to prevent sticking.
  2. Meanwhile, Make the stuffing. Heat a frypan over medium heat. Add olive oil and heat until it becomes simmery, then scrape in onion and salt. Reduce the heat to low and sauté for 5 minutes or until onion is softened and translucent. Use a wooden spoon to stir regularly and avoid burning any bits. Now, add garlic and brown for 30 seconds before adding spinach and zucchini. Cook for 5 minutes or until greens have softened. You might need to add a little splash of water if the veggies begin to stick (this will depend on your pan), and stir it a few times.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 C (350F) and bring a large, 5L pot of water to the boil. Once the water reaches a rolling boil add salt (around 2 tsp course salt), then cook pasta per packet instructions. Strain cooked pasta.
  4. Assemble and bake. Using a large baking tray, start by adding 1 cup of the marinara to the bottom and spreading to coat. Pour the remaining marinara into the drained pasta and mix well. Use half of the pasta to make a layer, then dollop half of the spinach stuffing into the pasta dish. You can do this in small or large blogs, whatever you prefer. Repeat with the remaining pasta and spinach stuffing to make a second layer. If you like, sprinkle the top with a layer of grated, vegan cheese. Cover the tray (with a lid or 2 layers of aluminum foil) and bake for 30 mins.
Enjoy while hot, served with a fresh, punchy salad.


  • To make this gluten free simple swap for your favourite short, gluten free pasta.
  • Spinach can be swapped for you preferred greens. Kale or chard would work best, but may need to be cooked a little longer in step 2.
  • You can omit zucchini and swap for extra greens if you prefer.
  • I use homemade, fermented cashew cheese for this recipe, but store bought will work. You could also swap for store-bought cream cheese, or make a simple, unfermented cashew cheese at home instead.


Keywords: Vegan, pasta, pasta bake, marinara, red pesto, pesto, dairy free

  1. Had this for dinner last night. Definitely a hit. Everyone really loved the sauce. Next time I make it I’ll keep in mind that we don’t eat 500g of pasta in one sitting (it’s going to take 3 to finish it, yum!). I also like more vegetables so I’ll half the pasta and the sauce but keep the same amount of veggies. My cashew cheese was not done in time but it’s going on top of today’s lunch.
    By the way does the cheese get hard enough to grate like on the photos above?

    1. Hi Vinita. So glad to hear the sauce was a hit! I have a large family, so we easily eat the whole thing, haha. I used a vegan grated cheese to go on op- the cheese does not get this hard. I left it out of the recipe, as it was really only a sprinkle on top and not a necessary addition.

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