This savory vegan baked feta pasta is so rich and creamy that you would never even know it’s dairy free! Made using a tofu and cashew based cheese along with zucchini, roasted red peppers, and fresh herbs and spices, this easy weeknight pasta dish takes basic baked feta pasta to a whole other level.
What is baked feta pasta?
Baked feta pasta went viral this summer as it’s a very easy recipe that requires minimal ingredients and steps. The basic recipe is made by adding cherry tomatoes to a baking dish with a block of feta cheese placed right in the center. After drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper, the dish is baked until both the feta and tomatoes are tender.
After stirring the two together, it creates a delicious creamy tomato sauce that’s tossed with cooked noodles.
How to make VEGAN baked feta pasta
For my every day diet, I now consume dairy in very limited quantities so I tried my hand at making a dairy free baked feta pasta using vegan feta cheese. Let’s just say…it was a bit of a disappointment. The feta became somewhat watery and the entire sauce just did not turn out as creamy as I had hoped.
While experimenting with a vegan pizza idea, I came across this vegan ricotta cheese recipe that sparked the idea for vegan baked feta pasta 2.0. Instead of using store bought feta, this vegan version is made with a homemade vegan cheese sauce that creates the most delicious creamy consistency.
The base of the vegan cheese is made up of tofu and cashews. The tofu adds volume and protein, while the cashews aid in that creaminess. Combined with an acid, spices, and nutritional yeast, it takes on a cheesy flavor that works SO well in this dish.
Simply blend all of the cheese ingredients together and plop it right into the center of the baking dish. Then it’s ready to bake just like any other baked feta pasta dish!
What makes this vegan baked feta pasta so special?
This is one of my go-to dairy free recipes that I make for people who are curious as to how the heck someone could live their life without cheese. Due to its super creamy texture and layers of flavor, it’s always a hit. But besides the obvious, here’s why I love this recipe so much:
- It’s quick and easy – Seriously, just bake, stir, and serve. It’s the perfect weeknight dinner recipe and makes 4 servings. It also holds help REALLY well as leftovers. I almost like it even better the next day because all of those flavors are enhanced over time.
- It’s not-your-basic baked feta pasta – Speaking of flavors, the original baked feta pasta recipe feels like a starting point. With that, I added zucchini, roasted red peppers, garlic, and herbs to help round out the dish. It’s so flavorful and easy to customize to your liking.
- It’s SUPER creamy – Due to the homemade vegan cheese, this baked feta pasta turns out sooooooo creamy. Mainly because the vegan cheese makes quite a bit, so the ratio of cheese to vegetables is perfect. You get the delicate flavor of the tomatoes and zucchini paired with the umami of the vegan cheese.
Tips for making gluten free pasta
This dish is also gluten free if you choose to use gluten free pasta. Although the biggest struggle with gluten free pasta is that is tends it break easily, especially when stirred in with a thick sauce. Here are my gluten free pasta tips to ensure that doesn’t happen:
- Pick the pasta ingredient – I often find that brown rice pasta is the best in terms of stability. It’s harder to break than other gluten free pastas like chickpea or lentil. Those work well in thin tomato sauces. But with a dish like this, it calls of a more robust pasta.
- Pick the shape – Curly pasta also mixes better than any straight gluten free pasta like penne or ziti. So whichever base ingredient you choose, try to go for a twisted rather than tubular shape.
- Boil the pasta – When cooking the pasta, make sure to stir constantly and use a bigger pot than you think you need. Gluten free pasta tends to boil over and foam up quite a bit, so tend to the pot at all times. Then remove the pasta from the heat when it’s a hair past en dente. Strain the pasta and run it under cold water. This cold shock will stop it from cooking any further. If the pasta is too tender when stirred into the pasta dish, it could break.
If you choose not to use gluten free pasta, feel free to go with whichever shape or size you like! But follow the same boiling instructions, as the hot sauce will continue to heat the pasta through. If it’s over done when boiled, it could turn mushy in the dish.
Additional baked pasta flavor options
As mentioned before, baked feta pasta really is a blank slate where so many flavors can be utilized. For mine, I added zucchini, roasted red peppers, and fresh herbs and spices. Here are a few other things you could choose to add in with your pasta:
- Boiled cauliflower
- Boiled broccoli
- Chopped raw eggplant
- Cubed and boiled butternut squash
- Cubed and boiled potato
- Heirloom baby tomatoes
- Boiled or roasted brussels sprouts
- Olives, added after the dish is baked
- Sun dried tomatoes, added after the dish is baked
In short, any type of squash can be added raw to the dish. Any other hearty vegetable should be cooked prior to baking the cheese sauce.
Do I need a high speed blender?
If you don’t have a high speed blender, you can also make the cheese sauce in a food processor. Just let it run for about 5 minutes to ensure it’s as smooth as possible!
Do I have to roast the peppers?
Roasting the peppers along with everything else is a simple extra step that adds so much flavor. If you’d rather skip the roasting and peeling, you can choose to chop the peppers before baking and toss in with the raw tomatoes and zucchini. I just like roasting because I find the skins of the peppers to be a bit clunky in the dish but that could just be me being picky!
Make sure to tag me @butternutbakery on Instagram and leave a review below if you make this vegan baked feta pasta. To pin this recipe and save it for later, you can use the button on the recipe card, the buttons above or below this post, or on any of the photos above. Happy baking!Print