This vegan rigatoni Bolognese is the ultimate comfort meal. Umami packed mushroom Bolognese sauce with toasted pumpkin seeds and Italian seasoning baked with hearty rigatoni noodles and vegan mozzarella. So tasty and satisfying, even non-vegans will love this rigatoni Bolognese!
With the warm weather, I’ve been having a lot with fresh veggies, grilling outside—which is great, but it had been a while since I made a nice comforting pasta dish. This vegan baked rigatoni Bolognese really hit the spot. It’s warm, flavorful and super cheesy. The Rigatoni on top gets really crispy under the broiler, adding texture and toastiness to the whole dish. Pretty easy to make in about an hour and a real crowd pleaser too!
What You’ll Need to Make Vegan Rigatoni Bolognese
Rigatoni: I would use high quality pasta here, it really makes a big difference in the texture and flavor of the whole dish. Feel free to use a gluten free brand if needed.
Pumpkin seeds: Adds a nice nuttiness to the sauce and bulks it up with healthy fats. Toasting the seeds adds flavor and texture, similar to that of sausage.
Cremini Mushrooms: Mushrooms make up a good part of our “meat” sauce. They have that natural umami flavor and meaty texture. No need to chop them up, the food processor will do that for you!
Extra firm tofu: The last main ingredient in the “meat” mixture. Make sure you get as much moisture as you can out of the tofu before adding it to the food processor to make sure it doesn’t turn pasty.
Seasonings: To add even more flavor to the sauce, you’ll need lots of different spices that are often found in Italian sausage such as fennel seed and garlic powder.
Soy sauce: Super important for to add that extra punch of umami.
Maple syrup: just a touch of sweetness helps bring out the other flavors in the sauce.
Garlic and Onion: a few aromatics for more flavor and texture.
Tomato paste & chopped tomatoes: The pasta will finish cooking in the Bolognese sauce and soak up some of the tomato sauce in the process. I recommend using high quality chopped tomatoes such as San Manzano For best results.
Vegan mozzarella: For the wonderful stretchy browning mozzarella you see in the photos, I recommend making a batch of my Stretchy Vegan Mozzarella Cheese. It’s make with sunflower seeds and goes sooo well on this baked vegan rigatoni Bolognese.
How to Make Vegan Rigatoni Bolognese
Make the vegan “meat”: you’ll want to start by roasting the pumpkin seeds for a few minutes in a dry skillet until golden brown and squeezing out as much moisture as you can from the tofu. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and pulse not blend, to combine. The mixture should be crumbly but we’ll incorporated.
Cook the sauce: in a large skillet, sauté the garlic and onion until just softened. Dump in the contents of the food processor and crank the heat up pretty high. Mushrooms have a high water content so we want all of that to evaporate. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened and toasty. If the bottom of the pan starts to darken, that’s ok, it will come off once you add the tomatoes and actually adds lots of yummy flavor,
Once the mushroom mixture has cooked through, add the tomato paste and toast that for a couple minutes. To finish up the sauce, go ahead and pour in the chopped tomatoes.
Boil the pasta: I like to do this step while the mushroom mixture is cooking. Make sure you salt the water generously and cook the pasta al dente so it doesn’t get mushy in the oven. You want there to be a thin line of white when you bite into a noodle.
Bake: once the pasta is cooked and the sauce is ready to go, stir in the rigatoni noodles and cover the skillet tightly with foil. You can also transfer everything to a baking dish if you prefer. Bake for about 30 minutes.
Add the cheese and serve: After baking the pasta for about half an hour, remove the foil and top with the vegan mozzarella. Place under the broiler for 5 minutes or so until melts and golden brown. It burns easily so watch closely!
Let the skillet sit for about 10 minutes or so before serving. Top with fresh basil and serve with a simple side salad if desired. Enjoy!
More Vegan Pasta Recipes to Try:
- Vegan Lasagna Bolognese
- Toasted lemon pepper orzo with crispy chickpeas
- Spinach artichoke pasta
- Cauliflower Mac and cheese