Sheetpan Baked Pasta with Creamy Mushrooms
One fine evening, when I ate our vegan pasta bake with smoked tofu and broccoli, I noticed once again that the top layer of a casserole is always the most delicious. This is the pasta you desire because not only is it saucy, but it also has this particular cheesy crunch that all the other pasta from further down can't offer. And that, after all, is what distinguishes a casserole from "simple" pasta with sauce, right? So, in fact, when you eat a casserole, you actually have a lot of pasta with sauce and only a small portion of the actual casserole. What a sheer fraud!
How do we solve this problem? An idea came right to my mind: Why not make ONLY the top layer of the pasta bake?! And to make sure you still get a filling meal, we want to make a lot of it – so let's get out of the baking dish and onto a baking sheet!
I think we're revolutionizing the pasta bake culture with this because we will prepare all our pasta bakes on a baking sheet from now on. I tried out a few options to find the perfect plant-based crispy-cheesy top layer. Mixing vegan shredded cheese with some oil and water to make it melt better is already kind of our standard tip, but I wanted to take it up a level. This is why we stir the plant-based cheese into a creamy nooch sauce to get the best of the best. You can adjust the "cheese layer" to your liking, though. It will also taste good without the vegan shredded cheese but just go back to the shredded cheese-water-oil option if you love that.
I chose a pasta and mushroom bake as the base, which tastes remarkably like a walk in the woods. The dried porcini, including their broth, always make all the difference for me, so I'd say that they are worth the money. But because the question will definitely come: Yes, you can also use just fresh mushrooms and replace the mushroom broth with vegetable broth.
So give it a try and bake your favorite pasta on a baking sheet. And if you don't like mushrooms at all, try our vegan pasta bake with smoked tofu and broccoli or our vegan rigatoni al forno.
Sheetpan Baked Pasta with Creamy Mushrooms
For the creamy mushrooms:
- 30 g (1 oz) dried porcini
- 500 ml (2 cups) warm water
- 2 garlic cloves
- 250 g (9 oz) leek
- 500 g (17.5 oz) mixed mushrooms
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 250 ml (1 cup) plant-based heavy cream
- 1 tsp spicy paprika
- 0.5 lemon (juice)
- vegetable oil for frying
For the topping:
- 4 tbsp vegan butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 100 ml (0.5 cup) water
- 150 ml (0.66 cup) plant-based heavy cream
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp mustard
- 200 g (7 oz) plant-based shredded cheese
- 500 g (17.5 oz) short pasta of choice
- parsley for serving
Soak dried porcini in 500 ml (2 cups) warm water for approx. 20 minutes. In the meantime, peel and finely dice the garlic. Clean and slice the leek. Clean mushrooms, trim the ends and halve or quarter the mushrooms. Remove the porcini from the broth (but keep the liquid!) and chop them.
Heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and fry them for approx. 5 minutes before adding garlic, leek, and dried thyme. Keep frying for another 5 minutes, then add the broth from the porcini and plant-based heavy cream. Let simmer for approx. 10 minutes, then season with salt, pepper, paprika, nutmeg, and lemon juice to taste.
While the mushroom sauce simmers, cook the pasta in a pot of boiling and salted water, but drain them approx. 2 minutes ahead of the cooking time that’s written on the package instructions. Before draining, reserve some of the cooking water from the pot and set it aside.
For the topping, melt vegan butter in a saucepan. Whisk in flour to avoid any lumps forming. Heat the mixture for approx. 30 seconds, then whisk in water and plant-based heavy cream. Add nutritional yeast, mustard, and plant-based shredded cheese. While whisking, bring the mix to a simmer until the vegan cheese is almost completely melted – season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.
Tip: If the “cheese mixture” gets too thick, add some more water.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F (convection heat). Add the cooked pasta to the creamy mushrooms and stir to combine. Next, transfer the mix to a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover it with your cheesy topping and bake for approx. 15-20 minutes, until your bake is golden brown and a bit crispy. Sprinkle with chopped parsley for serving.