Two days ago we posted a recipe for lectin-free, vegan ricotta cheese – have you checked that ish out yet? If not, I suggest you do so, because that cheese is what makes this baked pasta dish a 10/10!
In its raw state, the ricotta is crumbly and mildly wet, but when it’s baked it becomes crunchy, as if it were a cheesy cruton. Yyyuummmm. Contrastingly, the cheese on the inside of the pasta – not on top – maintains its moisture, lending you the best of both worlds.
There’s more to be loved here then just the cheese – on a recent trip to a local oriental market I stumbled across the holy grail of white rice pastas. I’m talking elbows, spaghetti, rotini (you know, the swirly one), one that looks like penne but isn’t quite, and – oh my, what’s that over there – seashells. There’s something magical about seashell pasta. For one, it brings back memories of being a kid. For two, it makes me wonder how they make pasta into such oddly specific shapes. And three, it reminds of The Little Mermaid (just me?).
In all seriousness, my mom made a dish as kid that involved baking seashell macaroni with red sauce and topping it off with tons of shredded parmesan, which is my inspiration for this dish. Add in some greens in the form of fresh asparagus and swap out the cheese for our vegan ricotta plus a shit ton of nutritional yeast and there’s a meal we can get down with.
If you’re curious how this can be called lectin-free when it contains white rice pasta and tomato sauce, then I’d love to share with you! Tomatoes only contain lectins in the peel and seeds, which means that the meat is completely lectin-free. As you can tell by its smooth consistency, tomato sauce only contains the meat of the tomato – not the peel or seeds – so if you choose an organic brand that uses a non-BPA lined can, you have a Plant Paradox-friendly food on your hands. As for the rice, many people think it has to be pressure cooked in order to be rid of its lectins, and they would be right if talking about brown rice. White rice – and white rice products – on the other hand don’t contain any lectins, as rice’s lectins are found in the hull and bran of the grain, which is the part that makes it brown. Strip away the hull & bran of the grain and BAM, another lectin-free food.
Now, Dr. Gundry doesn’t recommend that people eat white rice, as there are indeed foods out there that are “more nutritious” than white rice, but given the versatility of white rice products, it’s a small price to pay for the culinary leeway it lends us. If you’d like to read more about the whole rice conundrum, then check out this post, which explores what kinds of rice are best to eat, how to prepare them, and why.
All in all, this baked layered pasta is:
- Enough for 6-8 servings
- American-Italian inspired
- Easy to make
- Great for family dinners, get togethers, or leftovers
If you like what your taste buds are tellin’ ya, leave behind a nice rating, share your thoughts with us in the comments, or show us your creations by tagging @noeggsorham on Instagram.
Go Forth & Devour,
Layered Cheesy Macaroni Bake (lectin-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan)
Tender seashell macaroni tossed in sweet & savory red sauce is layered with green asparagus, tangy vegan ricotta, & nutritional yeast, and baked to bubbly perfection. Hearty, comforting, and full of flavor.
- 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
- 1 large (or 2 very small) sweet onions, finely diced
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp erythritol
- 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 16 oz white rice seashell macaroni*
- 10 oz asparagus stems
- 2/3 c vegan & lectin-free ricotta cheese
- 6 tbsp nutritional yeast, divided
- sprinkle of salt (truffle or smoked salt add a nice touch)
- Sauce: Heat a medium to large skillet over medium-low heat. Add in olive oil, onion, and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook, stirring every now & then, for 20-25 minutes or until onions have softened, lightly browned, and reduced in size. If the onions begin to sizzle or brown around the edges, reduce the heat to low.
- Add garlic in to onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 more minutes.
- Add in tomato sauce, water, erythritol & Italian herbs then boost heat to medium. Bring to a bare simmer then drop heat back down to medium-low, clamp on a lid, and allow to simmer until pasta is ready.
- Filling: While onions caramelize, fill a large pot (6-8 qt) 3/4 of the way full with water. Set over high heat, add a heavy pinch of salt (not your truffle or smoked salt here), clamp on a lid, and bring to a boil.
- Once at a boil, stir in pasta and cook according to package’s instructions or until pasta is tender. For us, that meant boiling it for 18 minutes.
- While pasta boils, pre-heat oven to 400° F and lightly coat the bottom & sides of a square glass casserole dish (8×8 or 9×9 in) with olive oil. Set aside.
- Cut off the bottom 1/3 of the asparagus spears, then cut the rest into roughly 2 in pieces. Set aside.
- Drain pasta into a colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water to halt the cooking and remove excess starch. Add back into pot it was cooked in without any heat, pour in sauce, and stir to combine.
- Evenly layer contents into casserole dish in this order:
- 1/2 of the pasta
- 3 tbsp of nutritional yeast
- 1/2 of the asparagus
- pinch of salt, truffle or smoked if you have it
- 1/3 c of vegan ricotta
- Once assembled, place dish in oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
- Best while fresh, but if you have leftovers, allow the casserole to come to room temperature – about 2 hours – then cover with aluminum foil and keep in fridge for up to three days. Reheat in a 400° F oven covered with aluminum foil until hot; about 15 minutes.
*If you can’t find white rice seashells, then elbows or ritoni will substitute it beautifully. Albeit almost any pasta will work here, the outcome will just differ depending on which style you use.