Creamy Pasta-Squash-Casserole (Vegan Honeycomb Pasta)
Yeah, that's right: Our legendary macaroni pie has a sister. For our latest pasta pie, we took inspiration from TikTok. If you browse the platform from time to time, you might already come across “honeycomb pasta”, aka “rigatoni pie”. It’s usually served with a bolognese sauce and lots of cheese. Instead, we made the pasta pie fall-ready and whipped up a tasty butternut sauce. Don't worry: There still is lots of vegan cheese involved!
You've probably already noticed that we're all big pasta-lovers at the office. Sometimes we have pasta for lunch five days in a row. However, you may not know that we often use spelt pasta, as we find it to be very wholesome. The spelt pasta from DINKEL MAX is a staple here at the office. Appearance and taste hardly differ from conventional pasta made from durum wheat. Also, DINKEL MAX pasta now comes in 19 different shapes – for this recipe, we use their rigatoni. In Germany, you can find them online or in many stores of Edeka, Rewe, Kaufland, and even DM.
When developing this recipe, we faced one major challenge: The consistency of the sauce! It had to be liquid enough to run inside the pasta but not too runny so the pie wouldn’t fall apart. For the sauce we sautéd squash, onions, and garlic, and deglazed it with vegan white wine, vegetable broth, and plant-based heavy cream. Afterward, we blended everything and added a good amount of vegan cheese. It adds loads of flavor but also helps the rigatoni to stick together. Grated vegan cheese works best, as it melts excellently.
You have to cook the pasta before arranging it in the springform pan –,arranging it as neatly as we did takes a little time but is well worth it! Of course, you can also just “casually” throw the cooked pasta in a baking dish together with the sauce. While testing, we also tried using uncooked rigatoni, which didn't work at all. You would have to add way more liquid to the sauce, but then the pasta pie won’t stick together, so we recommend cooking the pasta in advance.
Finally, all you have to do is to carefully pour the sauce over the pasta. Make sure the sauce also makes its way inside the rigatoni, which makes the pie extra juicy. We used a kitchen scraper to spread the sauce over the pasta gradually.If your sauce is too thick, just add some more vegetable broth. Afterward, our vegan Honeycomb Pasta goes straight into the oven. Before opening the springform pan, let the pasta cool down a bit. Serve with either fried smoked tofu or vegan bacon, which adds a nice crunch and some extra flavor. Delicious!
- 500 g (1 lb) rigatoni (e.g. from DINKEL MAX)
- 800 g (1.75 lb) butternut squash
- 1 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 100 ml (0.5 cup) vegan white wine
- 350 ml (1.5 cups) vegetable broth
- 200 ml (0.75 cup) plant-based heavy cream
- 1 tsp ground rosemary
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 150 g (5.5 oz) vegan shredded cheese
- 40 g (1.33 oz) soy flour
- 200 g (7 oz) smoked tofu
- liquid smoke (optional)
- soy sauce (optional)
- olive oil for frying
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, let it simmer, but drain 1-2 minutes before it’s al dente.
Wash pumpkin and cut it into thumb-sized pieces. Sauté in a large pot with plenty of olive oil for about 5 minutes. In the meantime, dice onion and roughly chop garlic. Add both to the pot and sauté for another 5 minutes over medium heat. Deglaze with vegan white wine, vegetable broth, and plant-based heavy cream. Add ground rosemary and dried oregano and let simmer for approx. 8-10 minutes, until everything is softened
Remove the pot from heat and finely blend everything until smooth. Return the pot to the stove and heat again. Stir in vegan shredded cheese until it’s completely melted.
Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F (convection heat). Grease a springform pan (ø 24 cm/9.5 inches) with olive oil and arrange the pasta inside vertically side by side. The springform pan should be filled entirely, with as few gaps between the rigatoni as possible.
Add soy flour to the sauce and stir in well. Gradually pour the pumpkin sauce over the pasta. The sauce should also go inside the rigatoni. To do this, spread the sauce with a spoon or kitchen scraper. Depending on the rigatoni's size, you might end up with some leftover sauce. You can freeze the remaining sauce or store it in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Tip: If your sauce is too thick to run inside the pasta, add a little water or vegetable broth.
Bake the casserole for about 45 minutes at 200°C/400°F (convection heat). Let cool a little before opening and removing the springform pan.
While the casserole is in the oven, finely dice the smoked tofu and fry in a pan with olive oil until crispy. Deglaze with a little soy sauce or liquid smoke and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the smoked tofu over each piece of the pasta pie.