I wanted to make something along the lines of mac and cheese: macaroni, a nutty sauce and tomatoes, but it turned out even better! I used four large red bell peppers to make the bulk of the sauce, and together with the tomatoes and basil, it is a flavour powerhouse! This red pepper pasta bake is perfect for a cold night in, or to take to a large family gathering. The left overs make for a great work lunch too!
This dish takes little effort and few ingredients. I chose to go with a whole wheat macaroni pasta, but I am sure corn or legume pasta would work just as well. I love the taste of peppers, and roasted is even better as it brings out their sweetness and makes to sauce rich in flavour. You can use pre-roasted peppers if it’s easier for you, just make sure that it isn’t packaged in liquid containing oil.
The final sauce is creamy and coral in colour. The nutritional yeast adds a nuttiness to the dish that you would expect from a mac and cheese. To up the fibre and nutrients even more, I added black beans to this dish, and as weird as that may sound, it works SO well. Trust me and try it.
In the end you are left with a crispy topped red pepper pasta bake that makes for the perfect comfort food. Serve with a green salad and you are good to go!
This red pepper pasta bake is the perfect comfort food that is nutritious, vegan and oil free. You can easily make it gluten free too! Think sweet pepper, tomato and basil, and a crispy baked top,
- 4 large red peppers
- 500 mL plant based milk (without oil)
- 2 Tbsp all purpose flour (or 1 large cooked mashed potato)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 + 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 400 g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 500 g whole wheat macaroni pasta
- 400 g black beans
- fresh basil
- salt and pepper
Prepare by pre-heating the oven to 220°C and roasting the peppers for about 15-20 minutes until the skin is black and blistered. Then half the cherry tomatoes and chop the fresh basil.
Remove the peppers from the oven and peel the charred skin. Place the peppers in a bowl and blend them with a stick blender until smooth. Turn the oven down to 200°C.
Now that everything is prepared, cook the whole wheat pasta as per packet instructions. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a separate pan, cook the tomatoes down and let the excess water evaporate. Set aside.
In a medium sized pot, slowly heat the plant based milk and add the flour or mashed potato. Do not boil. Whisk the mixture continuously until a thicker consistency is achieved. Add the blended peppers to the same pot and heat thoroughly without boiling. Add the garlic powder, 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper to taste.
Add the cooked macaroni to the sauce together with the fresh basil, black beans and about two thirds of the tomatoes and stir until the macaroni is completely covered in the sauce.
Transfer the pasta and sauce to an oven dish. Cover the pasta with the remaining tomatoes and sprinkle more black pepper over the top. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the top is crispy.
Sprinkle more fresh basil and the remaining nutritional yeast over the pasta once it comes out of the oven and serve!