Vegan Bechamel Pasta Bake with Rainbow vegetables and a delicious dairy free, vegan bechamel sauce. A wonderful Vegan comfort food dish that's easily customisable, dairy-free, and can be made gluten-free.
Begin by preparing the pasta according to the package instructions. Once cooked, drain and rinse to remove any excess starch.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat up 2 tablespoon olive oil. Then add the wholewheat flour and mix well. Keep on stirring until the oil gets absorbed by the flour and you obtain a golden paste-like mixture.
Add the nutmeg, salt, and pepper and stir again to incorporate into the mixture.
Add the oat milk, nutritional yeast and bay leaves. Mix well and bring to a boil. Then let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. *
Once you've obtained a creamy sauce, remove it from the heat. Also, remember to remove the bay leaves.
Chop the peppers, carrot, onion, mushrooms, garlic, and leek. Cut florets from the cauliflower and broccoli.
In a large pan, heat up 2 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped veggies and stir well. Cover the pan with a lid and continue to cook, leaving to steam for 3 minutes so the veggies begin to soften.
When everything is cooked, assemble in an oven-safe baking dish or a casserole dish. First spread out the pasta, then the vegetables, then pour over the béchamel sauce. Optionally, you can sprinkle with some vegan cheese.
Bake the vegetable pasta bake in the oven at 355ºF/180º C (fan-assisted) for 20 minutes. You can also add the cheese in the middle of baking so it remains more stretchy and not fully crispy and baked. Alternatively, for a more crispy top then grill the pasta bake for a couple of minutes at the end of the cooking process, and serve immediately.
* The sauce will take some time to thicken so don't worry if it doesn't immediately. Unlike with dairy-based bechamel, where I like to add the milk gradually, with the sauce thickening between each addition of milk, this recipe works really well by including it all at once but it will take longer to thicken.Note* The bechamel sauce can be pre-prepared and kept refrigerated for 4-5 days. It can also be frozen and defrosted before using. To reheat the sauce just heat in a pan while whisking, to remove any lumps.