Creamy Roasted Cauliflower and Swiss Chard Pasta Bake

Cauliflower and Swiss Chard Pasta Bake 3.jpg

Sometimes in the depths of winter, all you really want is a rich and creamy pasta dish. But that doesn't mean you have to skimp on a nutritious dinner either. 

This pasta bake is nearly half vegetable (!), and the creamy sauce is made from cashews. I promise you won't even miss the dairy. 

Creamy Roasted Cauliflower and Swiss Chard Pasta Bake

Serves 4 generously

For the Roasted Cauliflower
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, left whole in their skins
1 Tbs. olive oil 
pinch fine sea salt + several grinds black pepper

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Toss cauliflower and garlic cloves with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 30-35 minutes until the cauliflower is brown around the edges and the garlic is golden and soft, tossing halfway through. Set aside.

For the Cashew Cream Sauce

3 roasted garlic cloves (from cooking the cauliflower), skins removed
1 cup cashews, soaked in filtered water for 2-4 hours then drained well
1 cup low sodium vegetable stock
1 Tbs. nutritional yeast
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
several grates fresh nutmeg
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

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Add garlic, soaked and drained cashews, vegetable stock, nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, nutmeg, and salt to a blender or food processor. Pulse until the cashews start to break down then blend on high until thick and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Set aside.

Pulling it Together

6-8 ounces short pasta of choice (I used this brand)
1 Tbs. olive oil + more for drizzling over the top
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
4-5 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
6-7 thyme sprigs, leaves only
1 bunch Swiss chard, bottom stems discarded + leaves chopped
pinch fine sea salt
dash red pepper flakes
1/4 cup fresh rye bread crumbs, or substitute ground almonds for gluten-free

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Reduce oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish with olive oil. 

Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. 

While pasta cooks, heat a large sauté pan to medium. Add olive oil and shallot - cooking until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add herbs and cook another 30 seconds until fragrant. Toss in Swiss chard with a good pinch of salt and red pepper flakes. Cook until just wilted, 3-5 minutes. Stir in roasted cauliflower and cashew cream sauce until everything is well incorporated. Then, gently fold in the pasta. Taste mixture for salt and adjust as needed. 

Transfer pasta mix to prepared baking dish and top with breadcrumbs or almonds and a drizzle of olive oil. 

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15-20 minutes until hot and bubbling. Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes until top has browned slightly. Let cool for several minutes before serving. 

Notes: 

This dish can be made earlier in the day and kept in the fridge until ready to bake. Cooking time will be more like 30-35 minutes.