Nothing quite says comfort like pasta, and our vegan spinach cheese pasta bake doesn’t disappoint! Giant pasta shells, a creamy spinach and feta filling and gut loving fermented cheese makes for a healthy, filling, quick and easy dinner- sign me up!
Heres what you’ll need
- 250g Giant pasta shells– perfect our vegan spinach cheese pasta bake as they’re so easy to stuff, and they’re quite tough so they wont fall apart on you in the process.
- 1 box/jar passata/strained tomatoes– thicker then crushed tomatoes but thinner tomato paste.
- Tomato paste– tomato paste adds a good depth of flavour to your dish.
- Olive oil– extra virgin olive oil is our favourite; a great source of healthy fats and perfect to cook with as it’s quite heat resistant (up to 180C); ensure you don’t allow your oil to get to smoking point as it can turn rancid and it will change the flavour.
- Onion– not only delicious but a source of vitamin C, B6, potassium and folate.
- Garlic- immune boosting garlic is rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6, thiamin, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, copper and manganese..
- Fresh thyme and oregano– hopefully your luckily enough to have some growing in your garden but never fear if you dont, the supermarkets stock fresh herbs year round.
- Vegan feta– this can be found at most major supermarkets or health food stores
- Frozen spinach- gosh, where to start on dark leafy greens! Spinach is an extremely nutrient-rich vegetable. It packs high amounts of carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, iron, and calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins B6, B9
- Cashew cheese– any good health food store will sell cashew cheese, or if you’re keen to learn a new skill you could make your own!
If you can’t find all of these things
Don’t panic and go running all around town if you can’t source all of these ingredients- these vegan stuffed pasta shells are super versatile and the ingredients are easily substituted.
- Giant pasta shells– we found these at a deli but if you can’t find the pasta shells simply substitute for cannelloni. You’ll just need to spoon your mixture into the tubes and lay them down flat on your tray.
- Tomato paste– if you don’t have any tomato paste on hand you can use tomato sauce.
- Fresh thyme and oregano– you can use dried Italian herbs if you can’t find them fresh.
- Vegan feta– optional to substitute for grated vegan parmesan cheese or you could use medium-firm tofu.
- Frozen spinach– we use boxed frozen spinach which can be found at any supermarket, however you can definitely use fresh spinach, kale or silverbeet/chard. If using fresh greens, chop and blanch beforehand. You could also use a mix of greens and grated zucchini/courgette (We do this in summer, so its tried and tested).
- Cashew cheese– if you can’t find store bought cashew cheese try making it yourself with our recipe below!
A note on fermented cashew cheese
It’s not new news that fermented foods are great for our gut health (and in turn our entire health), and learning how to make your own fermented foods is not only far better for our back pocket but its also a fun and satisfying new skill!
If you can’t source store bought fermented cheese or are just keen to make your own, you’re in the right place. Please check out our video saved to our story highlights on Instagram or check out this post here.
If you want to make your own fermented cheese, heres how.
- 2 cups raw, cashews
- Filtered/spring water
- 1 tsp good quality salt
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (ACV), with ‘the mother’. We like this brand.
- 1/4 cup filtered water (or spring water) for blending
- Optional- lemon juice, nutritional yeast and finely chopped fresh herbs to flavour.
- Soak your cashews in filtered water and the salt for 4 hours
- Drain and rinse the nuts and add into your blender with the ACV and water
- Blend until completely smooth- this can take quite a while and you should ensure your mixture doesn’t get too hot, you might need to blend in 1 minute increments. Take the time to make sure its super smooth and don’t be afraid to use your tamper to get things going.
- Put the blended mixture into a clean glass or ceramic bowl (wiped with vinegar) and cover with a linen or cotton cloth. Make sure you leave enough room at the top of the jar (at least 5 cm/2 inch) for the cheese to grow. As it ferments, lots of bubble will form and the cheese will grow upwards.
- Leave your mixture to ferment in a cool, dark place for 12-36 hours (48 max) Fermentation time will vary depending on the weather (the warmer the quicker), as well as what you want your finished product to be like. The longer the fermenting process, the drier your cheese will be.
- You will know your cheese is ready when its nice and aerated, use a clean spoon to taste your cheese to see if you want a stronger ferment. You may find the top of the cheese has formed a skin- don’t worry, its perfectly fine. Just stir it in. If you’re adding in optional flavours, do so now by simple stirring them through the creamy paste.
- Store in a dark glass jar in the fridge for up to 3 months.
Note; If you don’t have access to apple cider vinegar, you can use other fermented starters. the flavour will vary, but it will still work- sauerkraut juice, or kombucha starter work well or various probiotics (from a capsule or powder form). In fact, you can ferment the cashews without any starter at all, but the result is less reliable.
Here are the steps to making the vegan spinach cheese pasta bake
The process is relatively simple for this vegan healthy pasta bake, and basically looks like this:
- COOK the pasta shells.
- PREPARE the marinara sauce by simmering the ingredients in a saucepan
- MIX the filling ingredients in a bowl
- STUFF the filling into the precooked shells
- LAYER the sauce and the stuffed shells into a baking tray
- BAKE for 30 minutes
See the recipe below for the full steps.
Some other easy vegan meals you might like
- 20 minute cauliflower curry
- Crispy sage and cashew pumpkin pasta
- Creamy tomato basil soup with garlic croutons
We hope you like this vegan healthy pasta bake recipe as much as we do! We love hearing your feedback, so if you try this recipe please leave a review or a comment at the bottom of the page. Have a great day.Print
- This pasta bake is so full of flavour and is naturally dairy free. You can easily make it gluten free (sub the pasta shells for GF) and is a great make-ahead option.
- 250g giant pasta shells
For the marinara sauce-
- 1 x box strained tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste*
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 tsp finely ground sea salt
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
- 1 sprig finely chopped oregano, leaves only
For the filling-
- 100g vegan feta, crumbled**
- 200–300g spinach (frozen, then defrosted OR fresh and wilted)***
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tsp olive oil
- Pinch sea salt
- 1/2 cup vegan fermented cashew cheese
- Heat a large pot of water and cook the pasta as per packet instructions
MAKE MARINARA SAUCE
- Heat olive oil in medium sized saucepan. Add garlic and sauté for 1-2 mins on until browned
- Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce and simmer for 15 mins, stirring occasionally.
- Heat a frypan over medium flame, then add olive oil. Add onion and salt and cook for 2-4 mins, or until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for a further 30 seconds. Turn off heat.
- In a bowl, mix remaining ingredients. Add cooled onion and garlic, and mix together until uniform.
- Heat oven to 180 degrees C.
ASSEMBLE PASTA BAKE
- Pour a layer of marinara sauce in the bottom of a deep tray.
- Spoon filling into pasta shells, placing onto the marinara base. You can layer the shells a little if you need to. Once you have finished filling, top with extra marinara sauce, sprinkle with vegan cheese (optional) and bake (covered) for approx 30 mins.
Delicious enjoyed as is, or with a nice green side salad!
*If you don’t have tomato pasta you could substitute it for tomato sauce
**You could substitute for grated vegan parmesan
*** If you dont have spinach on hand you can easily substitute for silverbeet (chopped + blanched) or grated zucchini