Pasta Bake Recipe Meat Free 1

Pasta Bake Recipe (Meat Free)

For anyone that’s tried my Aunty Rosie’s Pasta Bake with meatballs, it is the true definition of comfort food. It’s a soft, flavour full bake with pockets of mozzarella that seem to stretch for miles, and juicy meatballs hidden within the layers of pasta. My Aunt’s recipe requires a particular combination of ingredients for the sauce, and with the addition of the meatballs one requires quite a bit of time to make the dish, or otherwise completing it in small stages. So it’s natural that there have been many occasions where I haven’t had mince for the meatballs or the chops on hand to make that divine sauce, so I’ve skipped the meat altogether. To be honest with you, it’s still just as delicious, and just like the original recipe, even better the next day!

Give this meat free Pasta Bake a go. It’s a great dish for winter dinner parties or to prep on the weekend for a busy week ahead, and of course, great for left overs!

Jen x


Pasta Bake Recipe (Meat Free)

Makes six generous servings/bowls


Pasta Sauce 

1 bottle of Passata (roughly 600ml)

2 Bay leaves

1 large tomato, roughly diced

1 small brown onion, sliced finely 

2 cloves of garlic, sliced finely or passed through a garlic press

2 medium to large sized Champignon mushrooms, sliced in half then cut into thin slices width ways

1 – 2 ladlefuls of vegetable broth (hot or cold)

Fine quality salt and cracked pepper to taste

Olive oil for frying


Pasta Bake

500 grams Rigatoni or Penne pasta

300 grams fresh Mozzarella, cut into small chunks

2 cups finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan, plus extra for serving

Water as per pasta packet instructions for boiling

Pinch of salt for pasta water


Pasta Sauce/

Heat a generous amount of oil in a medium to large sized stock pot. Add the onion and garlic, and fry together on low to medium heat until the onions turn golden


Now add the mushrooms and tomato and fry for two to three minutes until the mushrooms have visibly softened and the ingredients take on a buttery aroma


Cover the ingredients with three quarters of the passata, stir everything together and add a ladleful of the stock (cold or heated). Aim for a sauce consistency that is slightly thinner than the passata. I do this by eye, so add a little more passata or stock as you go, until you are happy with the sauce thickness, and of course taste


Add the bay leaves, stir them through the sauce and turn the stove to high heat until the sauce starts to boil, add salt and pepper to taste, mix through once more and then turn down the heat to low and allow the sauce to simmer


In the meantime start boiling the water for the pasta, and add a good pinch of salt


Once the pasta water has come to a boil, cook the Rigatoni or Penne as per the packet’s instructions. Once cooked, drain the pasta and set aside. Turn your oven on to 180°


Pasta Bake/

Use a deep oven tray or a ideally a Dutch oven cooking pot with a lid for the pasta bake


What comes next is the final stage of the pasta bake preparation and it involves layering the pasta bake ingredients


Start by adding enough pasta to cover the tray or pot base. Add a little sauce and mix together until the base of pasta has been wet well. Sprinkle enough Grana Padano or Parmesan to cover the pasta, then scatter some pieces of Mozzarella, repeat with a layer of pasta and so on. Continue in this fashion until you have almost filled the tray then sprinkle the final layer top generously with Grana Padano or Parmesan. Note: as you find the bay leaves, remember to discard them from the bake.


If using a deep oven tray, cover with aluminium foil and bake for one hour. If using a Dutch oven cooking pot, simply add the lid and bake for one hour. The Pasta Bake can be stored for two to three days, and is even more delicious on the second day – hot or cold! Serve with crusty bread and finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan. Buon appetito!