Going vegan is a great life choice to make, no matter what it is that inspires you to become one. However, if you’re transitioning from vegetarianism, or going cold-turkey from being an omnivore, then it can be quite difficult to understand how you’re supposed to avoid the foods you want to, when they seem to be shoved under your nose at every corner. It can also seem impossible to make easy meals, when you can’t simply throw in some cheese for some instant flavour. As a student, cooking food that is quick, easy and cheap to make is the priority, and if the meals are nutritious too then that’s only a bonus. For a meal that ticks all these boxes and is a vegan friendly, cheesy tasting bowl of wonder then simply read on . . .
Why a pasta bake
A pasta bake is a staple in any student household, combining starchy carbs, tasty sauces, crunchy toasted pieces and any veggies you want to chuck in, all in one dish. It’s simple to make, easy to store, and quick to reheat, meaning one large batch can feed you for several nights of the week. Simply serve with a side salad and you’re good to go! This version is similar to a macaroni cheese dish, but feel free to throw in any veggies you like and use whatever pasta you have to hand.
What you’ll need
Egg-less pasta is easy to come by, as it’s only fresh pasta that tends to be made with any egg. To make sure you get an egg-less variety, simply check the ingredients on the reverse of your pasta packet. Other ingredients include one onion, unsweetened soy milk, dairy free margarine (Flora have a good option), plain flour, English mustard, nutritional yeast, 5 cloves of garlic, olive oil and breadcrumbs. You can also add a bunch of fresh thyme and some vegan cheese if you like and make sure to chuck in some veggies to boost the nutritional value of your meal. Some good vegetables to use include sweetcorn, mushrooms, peppers, peas, kale, aubergine and courgette. You’ll also need salt and pepper, to season.
If you’re wondering what on earth nutritional yeast is then you’re not the first to be confused. Nutritional yeast, or ‘nooch’ as it’s affectionately referred to in the vegan community, is deactivated yeast which is packed with nutrition, including those all important B vitamins. It comes in a flaked or powdered variety and its flavour as been described as cheesy, nutty, savoury and umami. If you’re looking to create a dish with a cheese sauce, or add an eggy tang to scrambled tofu, this is the product you need.
How to make it
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius and cook 350g of pasta in salted, boiling water according to the instructions on the packet. Peel and halve your onion and place it in a pan over a medium heat with 1 litre of millk. Slowly bring to the boil then remove from the heat, taking out the onion, too. In another pan, again over a medium heat, melt 100g of margarine, then add 85g of flour until it forms a paste from mixing. Gradually add the warm milk, whisking continuously until smooth. Bring this mixture to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in 1 heaped teaspoon of mustard and one and a half tablespoons of ‘nooch’. Season to taste.
Drain your pasta, stir into the sauce, then transfer to a baking dish before setting aside. Peel and finely slice 5 cloves of garlic then pick the thyme leaves from half a bunch. Add this to a pan over a medium heat with a splash of oil, cooking for two to three minutes before transferring to a food processor with the breadcrumbs and another splash of oil. Blitz until combined then sprinkle over the pasta. If you don’t have a food processor you can skip this step and simply scatter your breadcrumbs over the surface of the pasta. Place the dish in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden. Leave to stand for five minutes then serve with a side salad or green veggies.
Are there any other recipes you’d like to see? Let us know in the comments section below.