This Easy Cheesy Pasta Bake with Spinach and Vegan Sausage was the perfect easy and satisfying meal yesterday for an early dinner. Layers of tender pasta are marinated with tomato sauce, clustered with loads of wilted spinach and melty cheese shreds. A sprinkle of vegan sausage on top for added flavor and protein.
This recipe literally takes about 15 minutes to prep (including pasta boiling time) and then another 15 minutes to bake. Serve and wait for the swoons…
Pasta bakes are so delicious because instead of just being tossed with sauce, the pasta is actually marinated in sauce. During baking the sauce coats and soaks into the pasta giving each bite a bit more flavor. Baking takes only about 10-20 minutes – depending on what ingredients you have added – since the pasta is already cooked before baking.
If you are adding delicate veggies like spinach and kale to this cheesy pasta bake, the baking time will be super short. Wilt the veggies, melt the cheese, warm and bubble the sauce, warm and brown the sausage.
But if you have heartier veggies like raw garlic, mushrooms, carrots and more, you may need to add 5-10 minutes to your bake. Or you could always saute those veggies ahead of time to lessen baking time.
What’s the point of the bake?
Basically the point of the ‘bake’ part is to combine all the flavors, really heat everything together – and of course melt the cheese and warm any un-heated ingredients like sauce.
Veggies For a Cheesy Pasta Bake
I went simple and added some gorgeous organic spinach that I had on hand, but there are plenty of veggie you could try:
- bell pepper
- fresh tomato
- raw garlic, chopped
Other Ingredients to Try:
- vegan sausage
- white beans
- cashew ricotta cheese
- vegan meatballs
Vegan ricotta cheese dolloped on top of the bake would be another really yummy add. It would give an even more lasagna-y flavor….
This cheesy pasta bake dish was absolutely lasagna-inspired! I really wantd more lasagna, but I was out of lasagna noodles, and wanted a shorter prep and baking time. This pasta did the trick!
So let’s look at the layers I chose for my bake…
- cooked pasta – orecchiette mix
- 1 jar of portobello pasta sauce
- nutritional yeast
- organic spinach, chopped
- vegan Mozzeralla
- vegan Parmesan (small amount)
- a few pinches of dried oregano
- drizzle of EVOO
Easy Cheesy Pasta Bake
- 3 cups pasta, any variety
- 25 oz marinara sauce, any variety – mushroom flavor used
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped – tightly packed
- 1 cup vegan cheese shreds, Mozzarella
- 1 vegan sausage, chopped – Field Roast used
- vegan Parmesan to taste, optional
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, optional
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, drizzled over top – optional
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a pinch of salt.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Boil pasta until tender, usually 10-12 minutes.
- For the last two minutes of pasta boiling, Add the spinach to a mesh strainer and steam it over the pot – to gently wilt.
- Remove the pasta and spinach and transfer to the casserole dish.
- Sprinkle the nutritional yeast over top the pasta and spinach.
- Pour the pasta sauce right over top the pasta.
- Sprinkle the cheese over top the sauce.
- Add the chopped vegan sausage over top the cheese – you could also fold the sausage into the pasta if you want a more tender sausage texture. Sprinkling on top allows them to brown nicely with slightly crisp edges.
- Add optional oregano, vegan Parm and EVOO over top.
- Cover the casserole dish in foil or a lid and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. If desired, remove covering for two minutes and turn oven to broil – to further intensify the melty cheese bubbling.
- Serve warm!
- casserole dish
- large soup pot
- foil or casserole dish lid
- mesh strainer