Amazing vegan pasta bake with Italian sausage mushroom walnut meat from scratch, a thick layer of cashew ricotta nestled in between rigate pasta coated in a thick homemade San Marazano tomato sauce.
Vegan Pasta Bake
The perfect easy Christmas dinner pasta bake to feed a crowd or just a cozy Sunday meal in lieu of a traditional lasagna. A new family favorite to add to your rotation and serve on its own sprinkled with Italian bread crumbs or a side of our crispy roasted broccoli.
Sausage Mushroom Walnut Meat
Chef’s Kiss! A protein packed, fennel flavored Italian style sausage meat from scratch. It’s a mix of chopped up walnuts and mushrooms for the perfect texture and seasoned with the classic suspects: onion, garlic, paprika and fennel. Add a touch of maple syrup or agave for that authentic subtle sweetness. You’ll want to brown it in some olive oil in a hot cast iron skillet for a good 10 minutes or so and get those little golden brown bits all over. As the mixture cools it will clump together and can also be used as an amazing topping on our thin crust pizza dough.
About the Pasta
Choose a bronze cut durum wheat semolina pasta with ridges here to capture tons of sauce in each bite. Anything from rigatoni to shells or pipe would be lovely, if available I.G.P. Pasta Di Grangnano is always the best. Remember to par-boil in plenty of salty water but do not overcook as the pasta will finish cooking in the oven.
It’s really worth the extra effort to make your own San Marzano tomato sauce in advance. You want it nice and thick and clinging to every single ridge of the pasta for a rich and luscious bite.
Our homemade old and trusted cashew ricotta recipe adds the perfect layer of creaminess balanced by the meaty savory walnut sausage meat. As it bakes the ricotta will set and attain a wonderful texture that beautifully compliments the rest of the components. No need for store bought anything here.
Make Ahead + Storage
The recipe can all be prepped a couple of days ahead and refrigerated tightly covered. Just pop in the oven when ready to bake and give it an extra 10 minutes or so to make sure the center is fully heated through. Any leftovers can be stored for up to 5 days in the fridge and reheated in the microwave oven in individual portions.
More Delicious Pasta
- Avocado Pesto Pasta
- Roasted Cherry Tomato Pasta
- Vegan Stuffed Shells
- Bucatini Pomodoro
- Vegan Bolognese
- Vegan Lasagna
- Mushroom Leek Pasta
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese.
how to make vegan pasta bake with Italian sausage walnut meat
Vegan Pasta Bake
Sausage Walnut Meat
- 1 cup raw walnuts (soaked in hot water)
- 1/2 lb brown button mushrooms (quartered)
- 3 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp granulated garlic
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 Tbsp fennel seeds
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes + more to taste
- 3 Tbsp whole wheat pastry flour (or your favorite kind)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- black pepper to taste (freshly cracked)
- 2-3 Tbsp fresh fennel fronds if available (optional)
- 5 basil leaves
- 1/2 yellow onion (minced and sautéed until golden brown)
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup (optional)
- olive oil as needed
For the Pasta
- Soak the cashews in hot water for 20 minutes. Drain and add to a powerful blender (such as a Vitamix) together with the lemon, garlic, water and salt. Process until creamy and set aside until needed.2 cups raw cashew pieces, 3/4 cup filtered water, 1 lemon, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp sea salt
Mushroom Walnut Sausage Meat
- Soak the walnuts in hot boiling water for 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a food processor.1 cup raw walnuts
- Preheat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and toast the fennel seeds until golden and fragrant. Transfer to the food processor with the nuts.1 Tbsp fennel seeds
- To the same skillet add another drizzle of olive oil and sautee the minced onion with a pinch of salt until soft, translucent and begins to get a nice golden color all around the edges. Transfer to the food processor with the nuts. Pulse a few times until the nuts are roughly chopped, you want lots of texture here so careful to not overdo it.1/2 yellow onion
- Add the mushrooms, spices and flour and pulse again a few times until everything is incorporated but you still have texture.1/2 lb brown button mushrooms, 3 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp granulated garlic, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes + more to taste, 3 Tbsp whole wheat pastry flour, 1 tsp sea salt, black pepper to taste, 2-3 Tbsp fresh fennel fronds if available, 5 basil leaves, 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- Preheat the same heavy bottom skillet on medium high and add more oil. Transfer the sausage meat to the pan and sear it until golden brown, moving it around and scraping the brown bits from the bottom. Do this for about 10 minutes or so adding more oil as needed to get lots of nice browning and big chunks of crumbled sausage meat.olive oil as needed
- Transfer the cooked sausage mix to a bowl and refrigerate until needed. As it cools down it’s going to set and form sturdier clumps that you can sprinkle inside your pasta bake or lasagna. (Note: really great on pizza).
The Pasta Bake
- Preheat your oven to 375”F.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and par-boil the pasta for 6 minutes. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce.1 lb rigate pasta, 5 cups tomato sauce
- Lightly oil a 9 x12 or similar size lasagna pan. Transfer half of the sauced pasta to the pan, top with the ricotta and sprinkle half of the sausage on top. Top with the remaining pasta and sprinkle with the remaining sausage meat. Cover with the smoked vegan Gouda slices if using.1 batch cashew ricotta cheese, 6 slices vegan smoked Gouda (OPTIONAL)
- Tightly cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool and set for 10 minutes or so before serving garnished with fresh basil or chives. (NOTE: If you omitted the vegan cheese you can drizzle with cashew cream before serving.
- Cashew Ricotta - When making the ricotta in the blender is going to be silky creamy smooth and can be poured over the pasta. If making ahead and refrigerating just know it is going to thicken and set. In this case just scoop dollops of it and place over the pasta.