- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 10 ounces fresh cauliflower florets, riced or finely chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (8-ounce) container plant-based ricotta cheese, at room temp
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1teaspoonsea salt, divided*
- 12 ounces rigatoni or other pasta shape of choice
- 2 1/2 cups classic marinara sauce of choice, divided
- 2 1/2 ounces fresh organic baby greens, such as spinach or kale
- 1/4teaspoonred pepper flakes
- 6 ounces fresh vegan mozzarella cheese, finely diced, at room temp
- 4 ounces vegan goat cheese or other soft cashew cheese, at room temp
- 1/2 cup tri-color grape tomatoes, thinly sliced, or roasted veggies of choice
- 1/4 cup small fresh basil leaves
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a stick-resistant wok or large skillet over medium-high. Add the cauliflower and sauté until caramelized (browned), about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the cauliflower mixture, ricotta cheese, lemon zest, and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- In an extra-large saucepan, cook the pasta in (salted) boiling water per package directions – or use my lid-cooking technique to save energy. (See NOTES.) Drain.
- Add the drained pasta and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the dry saucepan and stir to combine over medium. Stir in 2 cups of the marinara sauce.
- Spread the remaining 1/2 cup marinara sauce in an 8- x 12-inch or 9- x 13-inch baking dish, about 3 quarts. (2.8 liter).** In layers, add half of the pasta, dollop with the cauliflower-ricotta mixture, press the greens on top, sprinkle with the red pepper flakes and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and add the remaining pasta. Sprinkle the mozzarella on top, drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and bake until fully heated throughout, about 22 minutes.
- Dollop with the vegan goat cheese, top with the grape tomatoes, sprinkle with additional olive oil (if desired) and the basil, and serve.
To lid-cook pasta, simply bring water to a boil, stir in the pasta, bring back to a boil, then add a lid and turn off the heat. (Note: If using a traditional electric range, remove pan from the burner.) Let the pasta “lid-cook” (cook without energy) for the exact time suggested on the package. That’s it!
*This recipe is high in sodium. Use less added salt, if need. Or be sure to plan your sodium intake accordingly the remainder of the day.
**I used an 8- x 12-inch baking dish for this. So, if you’re using a larger baking dish, you can make this recipe with a little more pasta, baby greens and/or roasted veggie topping, if you like.
- Category: Main dish
- Cuisine: Italian
- Diet: Vegan
- Serving Size: about 2 cups
- Calories: 560
- Sugar: 9g includes 0g added sugars
- Sodium: 1130mg
- Fat: 29g
- Saturated Fat: 7g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 62g
- Fiber: 2g
- Protein: 17g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
Keywords: pasta, pasta bake, rigatoni, plant-based pasta, plant-based entree, comfort food, plant-based comfort