This vegan garlic pasta bake is the BEST meal to feed a crowd or make ahead for a weeknight dinner. Filled with vegetables that are soaking in a rich and creamy garlic sauce, it seems like everyone loves this meal. Plus, it makes for great leftovers!
I am so happy to share one more favorite plant-based pasta recipe that we are in love with. I have made this vegan pasta bake so often and it is a big hit every time. The creamy sauce filled with roasted garlic is SO flavorful and the crunchy vegetables plus the crispy cheesy topping makes for such a great combo. I get so much positive feedback over this meal!
This recipe is a vegan pasta casserole that's super easy to make, but requires a few steps. It will be totally worth it though! It is a super hearty and satisfying meal that's perfect for when you are craving comfort food, but still want something healthy.
Perfect crowd pleaser
This is actually the meal I like to make when having both vegan and non-vegan guests for dinner (this vegan baked ziti is also great for this!). You can prepare it ahead of time, keep it in the fridge until dinner time and pop in the oven when everyone is getting hungry. It is such a family-friendly recipe that also suits for more formal types of dinner. The creamy garlic sauce imitates dairy rich pasta sauces that please all kinds of eaters. It makes for such a perfect stress-free if you are having dinner guests!
How to make this vegan garlic pasta bake
Here are the steps at a glance to prepare this dish (see below for detailed instructions):
- Make the creamy blended sauce: start by soaking + draining cashews and roast 3 garlic heads in the oven (more informations below). Then, blend all the sauce ingredients (cashews, roasted garlic, nutritional yeast, salt and vegan milk) together until smooth.
- Cook the noodles and the vegetables
- Combine noodles + veggies + sauce in a baking dish
- Top with a panko topping (panko breadcrumbs + nutritional yeast + salt)
- And bake in the oven!
How to make oil-free roasted garlic
Most oven roasted garlic recipes calls for lots of oil, but you don't need it at all! You will need 3 large garlic heads for this recipe. Not garlic cloves, the complete head of garlic.
Start by simply peeling the extra layers of the dry husk from the garlic heads. Then, cut the pointy extremities of the cloves, leaving them all attached together. Wrap the heads in aluminium foil to completely cover them. Transfer in the oven and bake for 40 minutes at 400° (enjoy the delicious aromas invading your house). Once done, let them cool down until you are able to handle them.
Oven-roasted garlic is sweet, soft and super creamy. You can simply press at the base of the heads to get the creamy garlic out of their shells. I will also sometimes use scissors and cut the husk surrounding the individual roasted garlic cloves to help squeeze them out when I press on it. Roasted garlic is so good enjoyed straight on crackers and makes for an easy flavor enhancement for dips and sauces!
Watch how to make a vegan garlic pasta bake
What type of noodles to use
Short noodles work best for this recipe as they are easier to scoop out of the baking dish and serve.
Also, I recommend using a short noodle that has a cavity inside, like rigatoni, penne, ziti or macaroni. The sauce has more surface for coating which keep the sauce locked inside. This means more of the delicious garlic sauce at each bite!
You can also use whole wheat noodles for this pasta bake to add more fiber and protein to your meal.
Can I use other veggies?
Of course! When making this recipe, I was looking for a primavera type of meal, with all of the spring inspired veggies. But, other veggies like mushrooms, broccoli, green beans and roasted carrots would also work very well. Try to swap the green peas for corn and you can also add leafy green to the pasta bake, as long as you wilt the leaves before adding to the pasta.
Tips when making this vegan garlic pasta bake
- Keep the noodles and veggies al dente! You do not want a mushy overcooked casserole. The noodles will soak up on some of the sauce while cooking, so keep this in mind when cooking them. I usually put a timer when cooking pasta so I make sure I don't miss on this one. Same thing for the veggies: keep them crunchy when cooking them in the pan.
- I find that sweet onions work best for this recipe. I tend not to cook the onion too much to keep the slices crunchy for best texture, so using sweet onions will help keep the flavor not too strong as well.
- I recommend to soak the cashews overnight in fresh water (or at least for 2 hours) before making the sauce. It simply makes them more blend-able and helps create a super smooth texture. You can also soak them in boiling water for about 30 minutes. If you forgot to soak them all together, but still need to keep going with the recipe, then just boil them for 5-10 minutes. Drain well before adding to the blender so you don't water down the consistency of the sauce.
- I love using panko breadcrumbs for their extra crispiness texture. I use panko breadcrumbs from kikkoman (they also make a gluten-free one). But, if you only have regular breadcrumbs, then use these ones!
Store any leftovers in a air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. It makes for a great meal-prep recipe as it stores pretty well. Great for lunches to-go as well.
Other creamy pasta recipe you might like
- Cajun pasta
- Vegan bechamel
- Tahini pasta
- Vegan Mac and Cheese
- Vegan white sauce
- Cauliflower Alfredo
- Vegan creamy tomato pasta
- Vegan baked mac and cheese
- Vegan creamy avocado pasta
I hope you enjoy this vegan pasta casserole recipe as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
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Vegan Garlic Pasta Bake
For the garlic cream sauce:
- 1 ½ cup raw cashews - soaked for at least 2 hours, rinsed and drained
- 3 large garlic heads
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 cup vegan plain milk
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 2 peppers, red, orange or yellow - sliced
- 1 red onion or sweet onion - sliced
- 1 bunch asparagus - edges removed and chopped in bite size
- 1 ½ cup frozen green peas - thawed and well drained
- salt and black pepper - to taste
For the pasta bake:
- 16 oz short pasta of your choice - cooked al dente (it will cook more in the oven)
- 1 cup panko breadcrumb
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp nutritional yeast
- black pepper
Make the sauce
- Pre-heat the oven to 400°.
- Remove the dry skin layers around the garlic heads, but keep the cloves all attached together. Cut the pointy ends. Wrap in aluminium foil paper and cook in the oven for 40 minutes.
- Once the garlic is cooked, removed the garlic paste by either pressing at the base of the whole head of garlic or gently cutting the sheet surrounding the clove and removing them one by one. Add the roasted garlic to a blender.
- Add the rest of the sauce ingredients to the blender (cashews, nutritional yeast, salt and vegan milk) and blend until smooth. Set aside.
- Warm a large pan over medium heat. When warmed up, add the onion, pepper and asparagus and cook, stirring regularly, until softened but still crunchy. Add a little bit of water or oil to prevent the veggies from burning. This should take about 10-15 minutes. When the veggies are done, add the green peas to the pan, stir and turn off the heat.
- In a small bowl, combine the panko breadcrumb, nutritional yeast, salt and black pepper to your taste.
- In a large baking dish, stir to combine the cooked pasta, cooked veggies and the blended sauce. Distribute the panko mixture evenly over the noodles.
- Cook, uncovered, in the oven at 350° for 30 minutes. Enjoy!
- Store leftovers in a air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
I made this tonight and it is delicious. The sauce is creamy and the flavor is just right. I will make this again. Thanks Jess!
Oh I'm glad you liked it Nancy!