When it comes to preparing food for the festivities, the only rule to keep in mind is to make it quick and easy to share. During a busy festive season, we all generally prefer to spend time with friends and family, rather than in the kitchen trying to rustle something up. However, for obvious reasons we also don’t want to eat boring and bland food, and when I try to think of an easy dish that basically prepares itself and also happens to taste out of this world, baked pasta is the absolute first thing that comes to mind.
- To begin with, take your favourite pan, place it over a medium heat, tip in the onions and the garlic, and cook them for a couple of minutes or until they soften a bit.
- Then tip in the passata, clean its bottle with the water, add the tomato water to the pan and stir well to combine.
- Now, add in the salt, the olives, the oregano, the chilli flakes and the baking soda. Stir to combine and bring the sauce to a boil.
- Once the sauce begins to boil, lower the heat to the minimum and start counting the cooking time. Cook the passata for about 15 minutes over the lowest heat. During this time the sauce should simmer just slightly and there is no need to stir it.
- If the passata you are using is already quite thick, it will likely splatter all over your stove, so make sure to cover the pan with a lid. Once the time has elapsed, stir the sauce, turn off the heat and let it cool down completely before using it, remembering to adjust salt if necessary.
- For the béchamel sauce, place a saucepan over a medium heat and tip in the dry ingredients, followed by the milk. Whisk the ingredients to properly disperse the starch.
- Now, swap the whisk for a spatula and start stirring the ingredients. As soon as the milk is warm, you can add in the vegan butter and keep stirring to dissolve it.
- Stir constantly until all the butter is dissolved, and the sauce thickens and reaches boiling point, and then turn off the heat. Once again, let the sauce cool down completely before using it.
- To cook the pasta, simply follow the instructions on the packet. You only want to cook the pasta for half the time stated on the packet. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and we are ready to build the final dish.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C or 390°F, and then, transfer the partially cooked pasta into a bowl, add in the tomato sauce, and stir the ingredients well to properly combine them.
- Take an oven dish, grease it, add in a layer of the béchamel sauce and level it with a spatula.
- Now, add a layer of the pasta and level it down. Then, repeat the process, so add in another layer of the béchamel and another layer of pasta.
- For the last layer, add in the béchamel and a good layer of your favourite meltable vegan cheese.
- You can either buy this ingredient, make our mozzarella cheese, or omit the cheese altogether.
- Place the dish in the preheated oven, and bake the pasta for 15 minutes to complete the preparation. Let the baked pasta rest for ten minutes before slicing it and serving it.
- Feel free to use any non-dairy milk you want for this preparation, as they all work well. We used Soy milk in this instance but almond milk and oat milk work just as well.
- For this recipe we used a cheese called ‘VioLife pizza Cheese’. If this specific product is not available in your country, any other meltable vegan cheese should work just as well.
- Baking soda is an alkaline ingredient and it is used to lower the acidity of the tomato sauce. If the tomato sauce you use is not too acidic, you can skip this ingredient altogether.
- For this recipe we used a pasta called “chifferi rigati No. 33” from De Cecco. You can obviously use any type of pasta you want for this dish, including whole wheat and gluten-free pasta. However, do note that small shapes are better than larger ones, as they are easy to spread into a layer. Elbow macaroni happen to be one of the best shapes for this preparation.
Preparation Time: 10m
Cooking Time: 45m
Total Time: 55m
Cooking Temperature: 200°C - 390°F
Storage Times: Preparations like this one don't keep well, as cooked pasta tends to become mushy overtime.