Cheesy Fusilli Casserole with Smoked Tofu
This casserole is just as nutritious as it is delicious. Packed with loads of dark leafy greens, gooey vegan cheese, and smoked tofu.
I have been working on making my own vegan cheese, but I haven't quite gotten the flavour right. Because of this, I haven't made alfredo pasta since going vegan, which has been a while... Then, I found this yummy smoked gouda cheese and had to make pasta.
So, if you're thinking, hmm this casserole seems extreme, it's because it is. I have taken every alfredo I've ever loved and made this masterpiece. Now, for the last 2 weeks, my diet has been a toggle between this casserole and this Jerk Tofu Sandwich.
Not the worst diet to have though, you got your leafy greens, protein, carbs, and of course cheese, and more cheese.
The Charred Brussel Sprouts
Brussel sprouts are crazy good for you, so I have been trying to make more recipes with them. Love them? Hate them? Let me know what you think about Brussel sprouts in the comments below.
Okay, start by preheating the oven to 400° F.
Now, to prepare the Brussel sprouts, slice the steams off the bottom of Brussel sprouts. Then, cut the smaller ones in half and the large ones into quarters.
Next, place on a large baking sheet. If some of the leaves fall off, don't worry, just throw them onto the baking sheet as well, they'll crisp up nicely. Now, drizzle the olive oil over top, followed by the roughly chopped garlic, salt, and pepper. Evenly coat the Brussel sprouts by tossing everything together.
Place in the oven, and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the leaves on the Brussel sprouts become slightly charred. Cooking the Brussel sprouts this way will give them a smoky flavor, but a crispy texture.
The Fusilli Pasta
Time to get the pasta cooking!
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil, then add the pasta. Cook according to the package (about 10 minutes), but leave slightly al dente, then drain. You'll be adding the noodles to the casserole to cook for an additional 30 minutes later in the recipe, so don't overcook the noodles.
Once finished, add the fusilli pasta to the casserole dish. Don't rinse the noodles, so that the sauce will stick to the pasta better!
Now that the pasta is taken care of, let's move onto the veggies.
In a large, deep frying pan add the olive oil and minced garlic. Cook over low heat for 1-2 minutes or until you can begin to smell the garlic.
Next, add the finely chopped red onion. Cook over low-medium heat for about 5-7 minutes or until they begin to soften. Dump the cubed portobello mushrooms into the pan, cover, and cook for 5 minutes on low-medium heat. Then, toss the broccoli florets and frozen pucks of spinach into the pan. Cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Once pasta is al dente, add it to the casserole dish, followed by the veggies, charred Brussel sprouts (once finished), and frozen peas. Set aside.
The Gooey Vegan Cheese Sauce
If your oven is off, turn it to 350° F. If it's still on, you know what to do -just turn it down.
To make sure the cheese sauce is nice and thick, we are going to make a roux. Start by melting the vegan butter or margarine over low-medium heat. Once melted, add the flour, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes. This should make a nice light roux, that has a slight puff to it. The fusilli pasta will suck up some moisture when you bake it, so don't get too caught up on the roux. It'll all work out!
Next, over low-medium heat, slowly pour in the cashew cream, stirring constantly. Then, add the nutritional yeast (this will also help to thicken the sauce), followed by the Dijon mustard, red pepper flakes, and cubed vegan smoked gouda cheese. Cook until the sauce thickens and the vegan gouda is just slightly melted, that way you have little pockets of cheese throughout your casserole.
So the fusilli pasta is in the casserole dish, as are the charred Brussel sprouts, and other veggies. All that's left is to add the cubed smoked tofu and to pour the vegan cheese over top, then mix everything together.
Pop into the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes or until hot all the way through.