Guest Post: Pasta Bake

Can I admit I punted on this one? My big plan for Comfort Food month was set back in August. I was going to do MY best comfort food, potatoes, and then one from my neighborhood — I was going to learn to make ramen. There is a line of gluten-free ramen noodles that I quite like, made from different types of rice. I got a book on the history of ramen, and a cookbook. I can highly recommend both. But what I learned is that those lines outside restaurants making authentic ramen are well-deserved. Ramen is a complicated (if worthwhile) process, with a soup base that must be made before preparing a broth that then becomes soup to which you add noodles and toppings. Definitely try it — with all the variations, it’s likely you’ll find some that suit your allergies. But it was not my next recipe.

So ANYWAY, that’s why Jack made this recipe. And from here on out, it’s all him. As a note, this is why we use #allergyfriendly instead of “allergy-free” on the blog — this recipe uses boxed gluten-free penne pasta and commercial vegan cheese (and we tend to use a jarred sauce), so it is likely not suitable for some allergies (corn). But if it works for you, it’s a great Sunday meal that also makes Monday’s lunch. We probably eat this recipe at least once a month, and while pasta is Jack’s comfort food, I definitely see the appeal. –MaryKate

Pasta Bake -- gluten-free and allergy-friendly
Pasta Bake — gluten-free and allergy-friendly

Hi there! I’m Jack, and I live with MaryKate, so I feed her from time to time. This pasta bake has emerged as one of her favorite comfort foods – which is lucky for me, because it’s one of the few dishes I can make without checking every step of a recipe twelve times. (According to her, I declared on our first date that “I don’t cook”, which I don’t really remember but would have been reasonably accurate at the time as a statement of bare fact, if not general philosophy or intent.) (He said that. I was there. — MK)

The pasta bake began as a gluten- and lactose-filled attempt at baked ziti. It has made the transition to allergy-friendly status quite well, thanks mostly to the pasta and cheese alternatives on the market, and also thanks to MaryKate’s suggestions of what else to add. Feel free to omit veggies and/or meat, and use the sauce, pasta, and cheese brands of your choice. We’ve even mixed in some almond ricotta from Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner for a creamier, lasagna-like texture.

 For me, pasta is comfort food. We had it at least once a week when I was a kid, and it’s quick and easy to make while also being warm and filling. I’ve even come to like the vegan cheese. The easiest version of this is pasta, sauce, and cheese, but adding zucchini and mushrooms gives it great texture, and the sausage adds more flavor and protein.
Pile o' pasta bake
Pile o’ pasta bake
Pasta Bake
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 large servings 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
35 minutes 35 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 large servings 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
35 minutes 35 minutes
Pasta Bake
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 large servings 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
35 minutes 35 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 large servings 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
35 minutes 35 minutes
Ingredients
  • 12 oz gluten-free penne
  • 1 medium zucchini quartered lengthwise and sliced every 1/4 inch
  • 8 oz mushrooms sliced, we like baby Bellas
  • 8 oz ground sausage or beef optional -- leave out or use vegan sub for a vegan casserole
  • 36 oz garlic pasta sauce
  • 12 oz vegan mozzarella cheese substitute we love Miyoko's Kitchen vegan moz
  • oregano to taste
Servings: large servings
Instructions
  1. Brown and drain meat.
  2. Boil penne until it's just barely soft, about 4 minutes.
  3. Drain and rinse pasta.
  4. Put half the penne in a 9" x 12" baking pan. Layer on 1/2 of the zucchini and mushrooms, then 1/2 of the sausage or beef, sauce, and mozzarella. Sprinkle generously with oregano.
  5. Repeat previous step for a second layer.
  6. Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes.
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