Creamy Vegetarian Feta Pasta Bake is a comforting and super healthy casserole that’s packed with veggies, gluten free and made with no milk or cream. It is made with chickpea pasta shells, asparagus, peppers and cherry tomatoes and topped with kalamata olives and crumbled feta cheese for a Greek inspired vegetarian weeknight dinner.
If you asked me what my idea of the ultimate comfort food was, I’d probably say a big bowl of spaghetti bolognese with copious amounts of shredded parmesan on top. However, these days we almost never eat pasta because of the carb overload it comes with.
That is until I found out about chickpea pasta that’s made exclusively with chickpea flour and is actually packed with protein and fiber! If you haven’t cooked with it yet, I highly recommend trying it in this recipe. I’ve tried other gluten free pastas before and always thought that the texture was never quite right. The chickpea pasta holds its shape and really resembles the “real deal”.
CREAMY VEGGIE FETA PASTA BAKE INGREDIENTS
The Creamy Vegetable Feta Pasta Bake uses no cream or milk and the velvety, creamy sauce is made with canned tomatoes, fresh garlic and the secret unexpected ingredient: hummus. For extra creamy factor I also used half a cup of canned coconut milk.
Chickpea Pasta: my 2 favorite brands are Banza and Barilla but there are many others on the market. Chickpea pasta comes in different shapes such as bow ties, rigatoni or penne. My favorite type for this recipe is shells but feel free to pick your favorite shape. If you can’t find chickpea pasta, red lentil pasta will also work. You can also use regular wheat or whole wheat pasta, depending on your preferences.
Vegetables: this recipe uses fresh green asparagus, bell pepper and cherry tomatoes. Make sure to snip or break off the woody ends off the asparagus. You can use any color pepper you like – I chose orange. Roasted cherry tomatoes are wonderfully juicy and flavorful in this dish.
Hummus: I like the sweetness of roasted pepper hummus for this dish, but feel free to use plain or roasted garlic hummus.
Feta cheese: crumbled feta cheese on top of the pasta bake adds a gorgeous, briny flavor. However, for a vegan version of this dish, you can leave the cheese out.
Olives: pitted Greek kalamata olives will work the best.
HOW TO MAKE CREAMY VEGETARIAN FETA PASTA BAKE
Step 1: Boil the pasta until al dente, drain and set aside. Just follow the instructions on the package making sure you don’t cook it too long because it will also be baked in the sauce.
Step 2: Roast the vegetables. Place cherry tomatoes, asparagus and sliced peppers in a casserole dish and drizzle with olive oil. Bake them for about 20 minutes.
Step 3: Make the sauce. Using a stand up blender process canned tomatoes, garlic, hummus and coconut milk until smooth.
Step 4: Assemble. Add the pasta to the roasted vegetables, pour in the sauce and give everything a stir. Season with salt and pepper. Top with feta cheese, sliced kalamata olives and sprinkle with oregano. Drizzle some olive oil on top.
Step 5: Bake. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until bubbly. The feta cheese will start melting and browning just slightly. Take out of the oven and sprinkle with fresh basil or parsley if you like.
CHICKPEA PASTA VS. CLASSIC WHEAT PASTA
The benefits of chickpea pasta over classic wheat pasta include:
- Fewer carbs! Chickpea pasta is gluten free and contains 40% fewer net carbs than traditional pasta
- High protein content: there are 22 grams of protein in per serving of chickpea pasta (based on Banza brand), compared to 7 grams of protein in regular pasta
- High fiber content: chickpea pasta has 8 grams of fiber per serving while regular wheat pasta has only 3g.
MEAL PREP, STORING AND FREEZING TIPS
This pasta bake is perfect for meal prep! Just divide the slightly cooled bake between 4-6 airtight containers and store in the fridge for up to 5 days. To reheat, place in the microwave for about 2 minutes, or, if your containers are over safe, cover with tin foil and place in a preheated over (at 350 degrees F) for about 15 minutes. You can also dump the contents into a skillet and heat on the stove stirring occasionally until heated through.
Creamy Vegetarian Pasta Bake is also a great make ahead or freezer meal. Just assemble the casserole and store in the fridge until ready to bake (for up to 24 hours) or cover tightly with tin foil or a lid (if your dish has one) and store in the freezer up to 3 months. When you take it out of the freezer, stick in the refrigerator overnight to thaw and bake in 425 degrees when ready to serve. Because the dish will be very cold, it will take a little longer to bake than the recipe instructions (20-30 minutes).
Creamy Vegetarian Feta Pasta Bake is a comforting and super healthy casserole that’s packed with veggies, gluten free and made with no milk or cream.
8 oz chickpea pasta shells
½ cup of roasted red pepper hummus
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, sliced into strips
8 oz green asparagus, broken into bite sized pieces
2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped or crushed
1/2–1/3 cup oz crumbled feta cheese
1 can diced tomatoes
½ cup coconut milk, full fat
½ tsp oregano
½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
1 tbsp olive oil + more to drizzle
Black pepper to taste
- Heat the oven to 425 F.
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions until al dente in salted water. Drain and set aside.
- While the pasta is boiling, place the cherry tomatoes, peppers and asparagus in a casserole dish (9×13 or similar).
- Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and move the veggies around to coat.
- Place the casserole dish with vegetables in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. At around 10 minute mark, open the oven and shake the dish once.
- Meanwhile, prep the sauce: in a standup blender puree canned tomatoes, hummus, coconut milk and garlic until smooth.
- Pour the sauce into the cooked pasta. Stir to coat.
- Stir the baked veggies into the pasta and sauce together with half of the olives. Season with black pepper.
- Transfer the pasta mixture back into the casserole dish, top with crumbled feta cheese, the remaining olives and sprinkle with dried oregano. Drizzle some olive oil on top (around 1 tbsp or less).
- Put the casserole dish back in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until slightly bubbly and feta cheese starts melting and browning a little.
- Take out of the oven, sprinkle with fresh basil leaves (optional) and serve immediately.
You can replace chickpea pasta with red lentil or whole wheat pasta.
If you don’t have coconut milk, you can skip it and add 1/4 cup more hummus.
This dish is quite versatile. If you don’t have asparagus, feel free to swap it for broccoli. Green beans or zucchini will also work well.
Keywords: healthy pasta, baked pasta, vegetarian pasta, healthy casserole, chickpea pasta