Mexican Pasta Casserole (Vegan)

Well after a very long blogging break, I’m back! I’ve been away so long, it took several attempts to remember my password.  Our busy season at work runs from July through October and then there are the holidays and then the flu and to top it all off, pneumonia, so yeah, I have (good) excuses for being away.

So much has happened, and a lot of it revolves around good food., so I’m going to make an honest effort to catch up and post some of the recipes I’ve had the pleasure of making (and devouring – mostly devouring) for the past 6 months or so.

I’ll start with this quick casserole recipe.  Everyone loves a casserole – all those flavors and textures mingling in one dish.  It’s especially easy on the cook because everything gets dumped into one baking pan, shoved in the oven, and forgotten for a while until – voila!  Dinner!  And then there’s only one thing (give or take) to wash.

This recipe calls for pre-cooking the pasta and you’ll make a cheese sauce while that cooks, so you’ll actually have 3 pans to wash, but it’s really no trouble at all to make this.  If you’re feeling extra lazy, you can just use pre-packaged vegan cheese (like Daiya cheddar or pepperjack wedges) and skip the cheese sauce step altogether.

The recipe is extremely versatile.  Add anything you like:  corn, olives, cooked vegan chorizo or “beef” crumbles, sliced jalapeños…

This recipe serves 5.

Ingredients:
1 lb whole wheat rotini ( think the box I bought had 14 oz – close enough)
2 cups cooked black beans
1 15.5 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel)
1 8oz can tomato sauce
handful fresh baby spinach leaves
chili powder and garlic powder, to taste
1 recipe cheese sauce (or just use your favorite store-bought vegan cheese)

Cook the pasta according to the package directions and while that’s going, make the cheeze sauce.

Spray a 9″x9″ baking dish with non-stick spray and preheat the oven to 450.

When the pasta is done, drain and then in the same pot, mix in the cheese sauce, diced tomatoes with green chilies (drained slightly), tomato sauce, and beans.  Add about 1 teaspoon of chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, mix well, then taste.  Adjust the seasonings and/or add salt as needed.

Pour half the mixture into your prepared baking dish, then add the layer of spinach leaves and cover with the rest of the pasta mixture.

Bake for 15 minutes.

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