Vegan Baked Pasta with Smoked Tofu & Broccoli
As you know, food plays a huge role in my family. Birthdays and other family holidays such as Christmas, therefore, revolve more or less only around the question of what ends up on our plates. I've already wrote about some of these situations and shared some of my childhood dishes on the blog. Today, our time travel goes back to a classic Saturday evening of my childhood. It was THE day in my family, when casseroles were served just before we went off to the couch and watched some big television shows all together.
Even though food is so important to us, it doesn't mean that I only ate home-cooked, super-healthy food every day. I was also introduced to some of the best convenience meals and handy alternatives. This combination still shapes my eating habits today, and I personally have nothing at all to complain about.
One of these convenient alternatives was a bag of sauce for a “pasta gratin with ham“, which only had to be stirred into some heavy cream and brought to a boil. It was then mixed with raw pasta and cooked ham, sprinkled with grated cheese, and baked. My mother's special idea and one of the reasons I always looked forward to this meal immensely was that everyone in my family got their own little casserole dish. It was delivered hot and straight from the oven to the dining room table served on a cutting board. I felt like I was in a restaurant and remember very well that I was sitting in front of the oven excitedly because I couldn't wait for it. So how could we not have a vegan recipe for this dish on the blog so far?
Today, though, there will be no powdered sauce, and grown-up Julia even adds in some broccoli. The preparation is, of course, a bit more complicated than mixing a powdered sauce with water, but still easy as pie. To make the casserole super creamy, we cook the pasta directly in the sauce, which consists of water, vegan heavy cream, and plant-based milk and is seasoned with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. As a big difference to the original dish from my childhood, we stir vegan cheese directly into the sauce, so it already melts in it. To double the fun, you can also add a second layer of vegan cheese on top. Instead of the cooked ham, I added pan-fried smoked tofu. Finely diced dried tomatoes, which are briefly sautéed with some soy sauce, would also work well. Our guest in this gratin is blanched broccoli, which I found almost “refreshing“ between all the creaminess. At the very end, some finely chopped chives are sprinkled over the gratin, even though I don't remember that part at all.
Vegan Baked Pasta with Smoked Tofu and Broccoli
- 300 g (10.5 oz) rigatoni
- 200 g (7 oz) smoked tofu
- 0.5 broccoli
- 1 onion
- 300 ml (1.25 cups) plant-based milk
- 250 ml (1 cup) plant-based heavy cream
- 250 ml (1 cup) water
- 200 g (7 oz) vegan shredded cheese
- 2 tbsp vegan butter
- vegetable oil for frying
- chives for serving
- soy sauce
Finely dice smoked tofu and cut broccoli into florets. Peel and finely chop the onion.
Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry the smoked tofu for approx. 3-4 minutes. Add a dash of soy sauce and sauté for another 1-2 minutes until the smoked tofu is slightly crispy. Then set aside.
Parallelly, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the broccoli florets for approx. 2 minutes. Remove from the pot and rinse under cold water. Set the blanched broccoli aside as well.
Melt vegan butter in a saucepan over medium heat and sauté diced onions until they are translucent. Then add plant-based milk, plant-based heavy cream, water, and salt. Bring to a boil.
Once the mixture is boiling, add the pasta, and cook it according to package instructions until it's al dente. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F (top and bottom heat).
Add the vegan shredded cheese to the pasta mixture and stir until melted. Season the pasta and sauce with salt, pepper, and a little nutmeg to taste. Then mix in the broccoli and smoked tofu.
Tip: If you like, you can also mix only part of the vegan cheese into the pasta sauce and sprinkle the remaining vegan cheese on top of the casserole. In order for it to melt better, you should mix it with some vegetable oil.
- Transfer the pasta mixture to a lightly greased casserole dish and bake at 200°C/390°F for approx. 10-15 minutes. For serving, sprinkle with freshly chopped chives.