Did someone say pasta bake??!
Umm, yes please.
Pretty please, with all the cashew breadcrumbs on top.
This Pumpkin and Kale Pasta Bake is the ‘wrap yourself in a blanket and eat on the couch in your pajamas on a dreary Sunday night kind of pasta’. AKA, the best kind of pasta there ever was. Mmmm, don’t you get the warm fuzzies just thinking about it?!
Just a wild guess here, but you’re probably always in the mood for a big cozy bowl of pasta, am I right? Heck, pasta brings people together! It’s the only food my picky little brother would eat while growing up, because it’s so darn GOOD and comforting, like a Snuggie from the inside out. Do they still make Snuggies?! I really need one, like yesterday.
Nowadays, I struggle with pasta guilt.
Sure, there’s nothing like a big traditional bowl of white pasta with red sauce, but ever since I’ve been introduced to lentil pasta, I can’t bring myself to cook regular white pasta anymore… I mean, I probably could if it’s all I had in the pantry (LOL) but my body prefers it to be lentil or chickpea or edamame pasta, because I’m selfishly getting something more out of it… protein!
I know, I know. Cue the eye roll… but hear me out first!
These new pasta’s are naturally gluten free, and when compared to regular gluten free pasta noodles, are much tastier because they’re made from real food (lentils, in this case) and not some weird, gummy, gluten free flour blend that turns to mush. Not to mention, they pack in the plant protein, like really pack it in. For instance, the red lentil pasta I bought from Trader Joe’s, (which I used in this recipe), packs in 13 grams of protein per 3/4 cup.
So, with protein-rich lentil pasta and the creamiest of pumpkin sauces (for a flavor twist), this pasta bake is what I like to call a pasta makeover that you can feel (really) good about.
I imagine it would be absolutely perfect as a side for Thanksgiving (because, pumpkin) and/or any holiday party coming up. I also imagine it being super handy for my Sunday meal prep people! Healthy pasta bake for lunch/dinner during a busy week?! YUM.
Did I mention there’s kale and zucchini baked in there too? Always thinking of ways to add in greens. Feel free to add in peas, broccoli or any other veggie your little heart desires, just make sure they are slightly cooked prior to adding it into the baking dish, for oven time sake!
Lastly, we should talk about the hefty sprinkling of cashew “breadcrumbs” that are not required, but highly recommended for a crusty cashew topping. Just whizz up cashews, nutritional yeast, sea salt and garlic powder in the food processor for homemade, grain free breadcrumbs!Print
Crusty Pumpkin and Kale Pasta Bake. Vegan and gluten free. Made with protein rich lentil pasta, in the creamiest savory Pumpkin Sauce, with veggies and kale baked in. Topped with grain-free cashew “breadcrumbs” for a crusty topping!
- 18 ounces of lentil pasta (or pasta of your choice)
- 1–2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/2 white onion, chopped
- 1/2 jalapeño, chopped (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 zucchini, sliced and quartered (**I recommend adding in even more veggies like peas and/or broccoli, for extra veggie goodness)
- 4 cups kale, ripped to small pieces
- 1 cup light coconut milk (or unsweetened plain almond milk)
- 3/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
- 2–3 tablespoons tapioca starch (or arrowroot/cornstarch, or flour, to thicken)
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
- 1/2 tablespoon champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar/apple cider vinegar)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and black pepper (or more, to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (for color)
Cashew Breadcrumbs (optional)
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Start by boiling water in a pot for the pasta, according to the directions on the box. After its cooked, drain and run under cold water, to prevent from cooking any more.
- Next, melt the coconut oil in a medium sized pan, on medium heat. Sauté the onion and jalapeño 4-5 minutes until translucent, adding a pinch of sea salt and pepper, then stir in garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Transfer the onion mixture to a blender and set aside.
- In the same pan you cooked the onion, sauté the zucchini until almost fully cooked and slightly browned on the sides, about 7-8 minutes, adding more coconut oil if needed. Then turn off heat and set aside. Prepare the kale by ripping into small pieces and set aside.
- Prepare the Pumpkin Sauce by adding all ingredients listed into the blender, alongside the onion mixture. Blend until smooth and creamy, taste testing and adding more tapioca starch or flour as needed, to thicken (but not too much, to avoid chalkiness – 3 tablespoons was enough for me).
- Prepare the cashew breadcrumbs by blending all ingredients in a food processor, until crumbly, like the consistency of breadcrumbs.
- In a 14″ x 8.5″ baking pan, pour a very thin layer of Pumpkin Sauce to lightly cover the bottom. Next, add in cooked pasta, zucchini (and any other cooked veggies), kale and the remaining Pumpkin Sauce, and mix with a spoon until the sauce is well combined. Sprinkle with a good layer of breadcrumbs – I used a little more than half of the breadcrumb mixture, and saved the remaining for later.
- Cover with foil and cook for 20 minutes. Then remove foil and cook for 10 more minutes, until the top is golden and you can hear bubbling.
- Let sit 5-10 minutes and serve!
- Leftovers can be refrigerated up to 4 days.
- Serving Size: 8
Keywords: vegan pasta bake, vegan pumpkin pasta, pumpkin pasta sauce, kale pasta bake, Pumpkin, Kale, Pasta, Bake, Vegan, gluten free, pumpkin sauce, lentil pasta, protein
I hope you fall in love with this warm and cozy Pumpkin and Kale Pasta Bake like I did. Do let us know in the comments if you try it and/or plan to make it for Thanksgiving!