Pasta is my favorite food. There is nothing better than a long-simmered bolognese over thick spaghetti. Maybe with some ricotta dolloped on top? And you all know I love my mac and cheese.
I love pasta so much that my favorite snack is — no joke — plain, cold pasta straight from the fridge. I don’t eat that very often now, but I cannot tell you how many hours of reality T.V. I watched in college while eating leftover plain pasta (cold bowties are seriously the best).
When Grant stopped eating meat, I had to stop making my favorite meat sauce, and it took a little while to find a good substitute. While nothing really beats meat slow-cooked in wine and tomatoes, I think I’ve found the best substitute: red lentils and mushrooms. Red lentils mimic the texture of ground meat, and sautéed mushrooms bring the meaty flavor.
Since Grant has been allergic to dairy his entire life, he’s really missed out on a lot of joy that an American-style casserole brings. (Seriously, try and find a casserole without cheese or cream of something soup!) That’s where this baked spaghetti comes in. It’s a vegan spin on the Million Dollar Spaghetti that I’ve seen all over Pinterest, with a rich tomato sauce and a creamy white sauce.
If you want to indulge in the comfort of white carbohydrates, but keep the rest of the meal light and plant-based, this baked spaghetti is where it’s at. Red wine is a mandatory side dish.
Vegan Baked Spaghetti
½ large onion
16 oz baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 c red lentils, cooked (simmer in water until for 10-15 minutes, then drain once tender)
24 oz favorite marinara sauce (I like this no-sugar-added one from Aldi)
8 oz water
1 lb spaghetti
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp vegan butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 c cashew milk
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper to taste
- Sauté the onion over medium heat in olive oil. Once turning translucent, add mushrooms, and turn heat up to medium-high. Sauté until the mushrooms are browned and have released their liquid. Season with salt and pepper.
- Turn the heat to low. Add Italian seasoning, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Stir and let cook until very fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
- Add cooked red lentils, marinara sauce, and water. (Tip I learned from my mom: fill the pasta jar with the amount of water you need and shake it up. Pour that water and the pasta sauce remnants into the pan. Waste not, want not!) Combine with the vegetables, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
- Towards the end of the simmer time, put water on to boil for the spaghetti and preheat the oven to 375.
- Cook the spaghetti until very, very al dente. The pasta is going to bake in the oven, so it will cook further then.
- Make the white sauce by adding butter and olive oil to a nonstick pan over medium heat. Once warm, sprinkle in the flour, whisking as you go. The fat and flour should create a paste.
- Slowly stream in the milk, whisking the whole time. The sauce should be smooth and will thicken as it simmers over medium-low heat. (If you have floury chunks, no big deal. Transfer the sauce to a glass container and blend with an immersion blender. I wasn’t a good whisk-er and had to do this, and it worked perfectly.)
- Assembly time! Drizzle olive oil on the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Add the drained, al dente spaghetti. Smooth into an even layer. Top the pasta evenly with about half of the white sauce. Add all of the red sauce (yes, it looks like a lot of sauce. But it’s perfect, trust me). Drizzle the rest of the white sauce evenly over the top of the red sauce.
- Bake for 25 minutes, or until bubbling. Allow to cool for 10-15 minute before cutting and serving.
Serve with green vegetables or a salad. This makes awesome leftovers, and the longer that the pasta cools, the easier it is to cut into squares like lasagna.
Adapted from this non-vegan recipe by Lauren’s Latest.
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