Seitan & Vegetable Pasta Bake

This is an update on my Cheesy Tomato & Vegetable Pasta Bake, which was my original veganised version of the pasta bake I always made every week when I was vegetarian. At the time of making that recipe, Violife’s Epic Mature cheese and Applewood’s vegan cheese hadn’t yet been made. So I’ve been tinkering with the recipe, to get it closer to the original vegetarian one I used to make. So this is my updated version, with added seitan for extra plant based protein

Yield; 4-6 servings Cook time; 45 minutes

You’ll need;

  1. One tablespoon of oil
  2. One small brown onion, finely diced
  3. Three cloves of garlic, minced
  4. Two peppers, deseeded and diced
  5. 150g white closed cup mushrooms, diced
  6. 175g seitan, minced. Feel free to replace this with other meat free mince
  7. One tablespoon of tomato puree
  8. One 400g tin of plum tomatoes, I blend them with a stick blender for a smoother sauce
  9. One 500g carton of passata
  10. A couple of teaspoons of both dried basil and oregano
  11. 300g (this is the dry, uncooked weight) of penne

For the topping you will need;

  1. 200g of grated vegan cheese. Tip – I find using a 50/50 mix of Epic Mature by Violife and either Applewood’s vegan cheese or Mexicana vegan cheese works best. Epic Mature has a wonderful cheese flavour and texture, and either Applewood or Mexicana will give it a stretchy quality. This way you can recreate dairy cheese quite convincingly
  2. Two tablespoons of breadcrumbs
  3. Two teaspoons of dried mixed herbs
  4. A sprinkle of salt and black pepper

Method;

  • Start by heating the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Once the oil has heated up, you can add in the onion and the garlic. Allow them to soften for around five minutes
    DSC_0775~2-picsay.JPG
  • Next you can add in the peppers and mushrooms, again give them another five minute to soften, stirring occasionally
    DSC_0779-picsay.JPG
  • Now add in the tomato puree, give it a couple of minutes to cook off, then add in the mince, plum tomatoes and passata. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, and add in the herbs too
    DSC_0789-picsay.JPG
  • At this point you can cook the pasta as per the instructions on the packet. Just take a couple of minutes off, as it will carry on cooking in the oven
  • Once the pasta is cooked, thoroughly drain it (don’t rinse, if you rinse away the starch then the sauce won’t stick as well) and mix it through the sauce. Spoon the pasta into a large oven proof dish
    DSC_0793-picsay.JPG
  • Sprinkle over the grated cheese in one even layer over the top. Then do the same with the breadcrumbs, and the herbs, then finally season with a pinch of salt and some black pepper
    DSC_0795-picsay.JPG
  • Bake it in the oven at 220°C/200°C fan assisted/400°F for 20 minutes, or until the cheese on top has browned in places

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Leave it to stand for five minutes before serving. This will not only help it to hold together when serving, you’re also much less likely to burn your mouth on it. Not that I’ve done that countless times or anything

Some vegan cheese can dry out when baking. If this is happening then tent your dish with foil, just put some foil over the top of the dish, being careful that it doesn’t actually make contact with the cheese. This will allow the cheese to melt, without risking it drying out or crumbling. I’ve found this can happen with Violife original, so if you’re using that cheese I’d advise tenting with foil

This is exactly how I used to have pasta bake when I was vegetarian. With deliciously melted cheese that had gone crispy and browned in places, and a crunchy herby breadcrumb topping

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