Caramelised onion and zucchini pasta with roasted cauliflower

For a long time, I’ve been on the quest for a tomato-free vegetable pasta dish that is equally easy and delicious. It’s not that I have anything against tomato, more that I think there’s far more to vegetarian pasta recipes than marinara sauce – and to me that’s something worth exploring.

My pasta experiments proved successful more times than not, but they were often a little low on vegetables than I’d like. After perfecting a recipe for gluten-free zucchini fritters (more on that later), I realised that grated zucchini was the missing piece of the puzzle.

Caramelised onion and zucchini pasta with roasted cauliflower
(Serves 4)

1/2 cauliflower, florets removed from core and separated into small pieces
340g gluten-free pasta (Barilla gluten free elbows work well for this dish)
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
6-8 golden shallots, thinly sliced
3-4 medium-large zucchini, grated and excess moisture drained
1 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Sprinkle cauliflower with a little salt and a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked through.

Bring a pot of water to the boil and then add the pasta. Cook according to packet instructions then drain and set aside.

Cook the shallots in a cast iron pan with a little olive oil. When the start to brown, add a teaspoon of water and stir to prolong the caramelisation. Repeat until onions are nicely brown.

Add the zucchini to the pan and cook out some of the moisture until the zucchini lightly browns. Then add vegetable stock and cook until the stock has been absorbed. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer cooked pasta to a large bowl and gently mix through the onion and zucchini. Add 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil to prevent the pasta from drying out then add roasted cauliflower, nutritional yeast and pine nuts. Give one final mix and serve among four bowls.

Easy weeknight pasta bake cake {gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free}

I try to keep pasta stocked in the pantry at all times. I rarely experience pasta cravings but this dish is simple and easy to make, especially when you’ve come home from work and haven’t given dinner a thought.

Pasta bake cake was my attempt at turning a simple bowl of pasta marinara into something a little more exciting. Needing a cheesy element, but trying not to overdo my soy intake, I pulled out my trusted recipe for cashew cheese – one of my earliest recipes – to complete the dish. Cashew cheese tastes like a hybrid of runny cheese and what I imagine queso dip to taste like (full disclosure, I’ve never had queso dip!).

You can add vegetables like spinach or kale to the pasta before you bake it, and you can make your own marinara sauce. In the interest of showing you just how easy living gluten-free and vegan can be, I’ve decided to keep this one as simple as possible. That means I’ve used store-bought sauce and left out the additions in the bake. Having said that, I do serve a slice of this with some fresh rocket or finely shredded kale (with a light drizzle of lemon juice) on the side.

Kale-Mary-Pasta-Bake

Easy weeknight pasta bake cake {gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free}
Serves 6

500g gluten-free vegan penne pasta, cooked 2-3 mins less than packet directions
2 x 500g jars of vegan pasta sauce
Cashew cheese (recipe below)
Rocket or finely shredded kale, to serve

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Cook pasta 2-3 minutes less than the packet directions. Strain and set aside.

Grease an 8-inch/20cm cake tin. Put a tray under in case the tomato sauce seeps through the tin during cooking.

Pour about 100g pasta sauce from one jar into the tin to cover the bottom. Fill cake tin with about half of the cooked pasta.

Add remaining 400g pasta sauce from the opened jar and pour about a quarter of your cashew cheese over the top. Add remaining pasta and pour contents of the second jar of sauce on top. Add remaining cashew cheese ensuring it is evenly spread over the top.

Place tin on tray in the oven and cook for around 20 minutes. Then, remove from oven and let stand to set for 10-15 minutes. Cut into slices and serve with rocket or kale.

Vegan cashew cheese

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp garlic granules
Pinch of salt

Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend until smooth.

Pour into a small bowl and set aside.