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Creamy Cauliflower, Mushroom & Kale Pasta Bake {vegan option}

vegan creamy cauliflower mushroom pasta bake

This post was created in partnership with Barilla Pasta

Creamy caulifower sauce coating wholemeal pasta, packed full of garlick, mushrooms & thyme, too! This is a perfect pasta bake for those cold, winter days. If you are as much of a pasta bake fan as I am, you’ll love this post.

Every year I start to feel a bit blue once winter arrives. All that luscious summer produce is gone and with it, the sunlight has withered away. I’m stuck wondering why the heck we still have to put the clocks back and hour in the winter? It just means the meagre afternoon sunlight becomes even more fleeting. I miss fresh tomatoes, peaches and big bunches of fresh basil 🙁

a bowl of vegan cauliflower mushroom pasta bake

The upside is the comfort food that always seems appropriate to cosy up with. Miso soup, pie and big bowls of porridge are all top favourites. Anything baked ticks two boxes because a) it’s probably going to involve hot carbs and b) If I close the kitchen door whilst I’m cooking, the whole room gets warmed up and I don’t need to wear a jumper for once!

a tray of vegan creamy cauliflower mushroom pasta bake

It won’t come as a surprise that pasta bake is a definite winter winner for me. You can pack in loads of veggies so you feel relatively healthy – I even snuck cauliflower purée into the sauce because I’m all about that vegetable/fibre life plus it makes it even creamier! I used Barilla’s wholemeal penne pasta and I have to say, it’s my favourite wholemeal pasta I’ve ever tried as it still has a perfect texture (despite the bran) and a light, nutty flavour. As eating dairy-heavy foods can give me stomach cramps, I prefer this cheese-light sauce to something like classic mac and cheese. There’s just a sprinkling of parmesan on top which packs in the umami tang without needing half a block of Cheddar. Garlicky mushrooms and hella fresh thyme bring the flavour in and a scattering of breadcrumbs on top give it that irresistible crispy topping. It’s a perfect dish to shared with friends on a weeknight or Sunday evening when you’re in need of some proper, hearty food.

Other vegan pasta recipes:

Creamy Cauliflower, Mushroom & Kale Pasta Bake {vegan option}

Creamy Cauliflower, Mushroom & Kale Pasta Bake {vegan option}

Yield: serves 2-4
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour


  • 1 small head cauliflower, , outer leaves removed, cut into medium florets
  • 1 small potato, (~80g), sliced 3mm thick
  • salt
  • 250 g (9 ounces) wholemeal penne pasta, (I used Barilla)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp plain white flour
  • 200 ml (a scant cup) semi-skimmed milk or unsweetened non-dairy milk, (see notes)
  • 200 ml (a scant cup) vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • black pepper
  • 250 g (9 ounces) chestnut mushrooms, , sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, , crushed or finely chopped
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, , leaves picked & stems discarded
  • 100 g (3.5 ounces) curly kale, , chopped into bite-sized pieces


  • 4 tbsp breadcrumbs, (see notes)
  • 30 g Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked & stems discarded
  • a drizzle of olive oil


  1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to the boil. Add the cauliflower and potato. Bring back up to the boil over a high heat then turn the heat down to simmer – leave to cook for 8 minutes until the cauliflower and potato are soft. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cauliflower and potato from the water to a large jug or bowl – set aside for later and keep the pot of water on the stove.
  2. Add the pasta to the pot of water and bring back up to the boil (add more water to the pot if needed to cover the pasta). Once boiling, turn the heat down to simmer and leave the pasta to cook for 5 minutes until only just barely cooked on the outside with an uncooked centre. Drain the pasta and rinse it under cold water in a colander. Set aside in the colander for later. Return the pot to the stove.
  3. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to the pot along with the flour. Stir over a medium heat until smooth and cook for 1 minute. Combine the milk and stock together in a jug – gradually mix this liquid into the flour-oil paste in the pot, stirring in between additions until smooth. Once all the liquid has been added, bring the mixture to a simmer over a medium-low heat and let it cook for 2 minutes – it won’t be very thick right now but don’t worry!
  4. Pour the hot contents of the pot and the tablespoon of mustard into the jug/bowl containing the cauliflower and potato. Blend using a hand blender until completely smooth and thick. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Set the sauce aside.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  6. In a medium frying pan, heat the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil over a medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and let them cook, stirring occasionally until they’ve shrunk down and are releasing liquid (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic, thyme and a pinch of salt to the frying pan, turn the heat down to low and cook for 1 minute. Add the kale to the frying pan and cover with a lid or large plate. Leave to steam for 5-7 minutes until the kale has wilted down. Remove the lid and take off the heat.
  7. In a medium casserole dish or roasting tin, mix the pasta, mushrooms, kale and sauce. Mix the topping ingredients (except the olive oil) in a small bowl and sprinkle over the pasta. Drizzle with some olive oil, slide the dish into the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes until the topping is slightly browned. Divide between bowls and serve hot.


- To make this vegan: omit the parmesan from the topping and just season with some flaky salt and nutritional yeast instead. Use unsweetened, non-dairy milk in the sauce.

- To make breadcrumbs: take one slice of bread and rub it on the coarse side of a grated to shred it into coarse breadcrumbs.

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  • Stasja November 21, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    This looks like my ultimate dream meal. 🙂 I’ve already pinned it.

    • Izy February 18, 2020 at 10:18 am

      haha mine too! Thanks, Stasja 🙂

  • sweetkabocha November 22, 2016 at 12:19 am

    Oh just in time!! I promised a pasta bake for a Thanksgiving potluck and I really needed some inspiration 😀

    • Izy February 18, 2020 at 10:18 am

      Oooh excellent idea for a Thanksgiving dish!! Will have to do that for T-day this year 🙂 Thank you! x

  • Rachel @ Baking Up Bliss November 22, 2016 at 2:18 am

    This sounds so savory and delicious! I love that it can be made vegan too 🙂

  • Maya | Spice + Sprout November 22, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    Mmm! Warm carbs = <3 <3 <3

    • Izy February 18, 2020 at 10:18 am

      Can’t beat a pasta bake!! So good 🙂

  • wallflourgirl November 22, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    This is my kind of comfort food! I miss the sunlight terribly and get so sleepy now around 4 PM, when it starts getting dark. Thinking about this dish just makes me want to curl up with my blankets and dig straight into the baking dish 🙂

    • Izy February 18, 2020 at 10:19 am

      Thanks, Ala!! Yeah me too, I don’t mind winter days if there’s some sun but those super grey ones are just unbearable. Only solution is delicious winter food! x

  • Rachael November 23, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    Love a pasta bake and this one sounds delicious!

    Rachael xx.

    • Izy February 18, 2020 at 10:20 am

      Thanks, Rachael!! Yeah me too, always a winner for a weeknight meal (especially because the leftovers are always so good, too) .

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  • Emma November 26, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    A perfect winter warmer.

    • Izy February 18, 2020 at 10:21 am

      Definitely! I’ve been eating so much pasta this winter and LOVING it 😀

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  • Dan Humphries November 28, 2016 at 8:47 am

    Pasta! It’s my all time fave and my nieces’ as well. Love to try this one. Sure they’ll love this too! Thanks for sharing the recipe! Keep more recipes coming!

    • Izy February 18, 2020 at 10:21 am

      Yesss, they have excellent taste! Hope you enjoyed it

  • Eva November 28, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    I’m eating this right now and daaaaamn, it is amazing ?

    • Izy February 18, 2020 at 10:22 am

      Aw thanks, Eva! So pleased you like it 🙂

  • Alan Read December 1, 2016 at 8:00 am

    Who wouldn’t love pasta bake? I love it. It looks so delicious!!

    • Izy February 18, 2020 at 10:22 am

      It’s a definite go-to in the winter for me. Can’t beat the leftovers (if there are any) as well 😉

  • Ruby_&_Cake December 4, 2016 at 7:37 am

    I would happily swap seasons with you (i’m a child of winter – summer is figurativley killing me) I would love to be eating this right now on a winter night – its too hot to be eating anything other that popsicles right now.

    • Izy February 18, 2020 at 10:24 am

      oh man, I think my fave seasons are either spring or autumn to be honest. Summer can be so cloying!! So i definitely agree with you there. I hope you get to have a pasta bake in the cooler months!

  • Greg Child December 19, 2016 at 6:19 am

    I’m a pasta bake fan. I am definitely going to try this. Thanks for sharing.

    • Izy February 18, 2020 at 10:25 am

      Thanks, Greg! Hope you enjoy it 🙂

  • Rawisara Marko January 10, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    I tried this recipe today and it’s absolutely delicious

    • Izy February 18, 2020 at 10:25 am

      Thank you! I’m so happy to hear that

  • sweetcoffee January 30, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Thanks for the post. It looks very yummy.

    • Izy February 18, 2020 at 10:25 am

      No problem! Pleased you like it

  • Michael Kitson May 26, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    Love that you’ve provided a vegan option! 🙂

    • Izy February 18, 2020 at 10:26 am

      Of course! I try to wherever possible provide options – with this recipe it’s a no-brainer, really!

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  • Kay February 18, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    Thank you for this recipe. I have just discovered your blog and printed off a few recipes. I am now a very happy follower too with Bloglovin’. x

    • Izy February 20, 2020 at 12:57 pm

      Hi Kay! No problem 🙂 Thanks for leaving a comment – I hope you enjoy the recipes x

  • l. April 3, 2020 at 7:14 pm

    It was the most interesting flavor combination. Personally, I would have never added the mustard but it gave a little something extra special to the finished flavor. This is a keeper and i will make it again! I loved the unusual twist on greens but wished it had more color. i wondered what a chopped red bell pepper would do.

    • Izy April 6, 2020 at 10:59 pm

      So glad you enjoyed it!

  • katie November 6, 2020 at 5:26 am

    surely 3 mm potatoes is a typo

    • Izy November 8, 2020 at 6:52 pm

      nope! I slice them 3mm thick so they cook super fast 🙂

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