baked penne + roasted vegetables + creamy smoked cheeze sauce

vegan baked penne with roasted vegetables and creamy smoked cheeze sauce (5)

this weekend, david and i hosted his cycling team's spring training camp at our home. for me, this meant i had about 12 hungry men to feed breakfast, lunch and dinner for 3 days! i put a lot of thought into what to make for them, as i wanted their meals to be really filling and nutritious. i also didn't want anyone to miss having meat and dairy around, so i made meals that focused on hearty plant based ingredients. my favorite recipe from the weekend by far was this baked penne dish with roasted veggies and a creamy smoked cheeze sauce.

as i was brainstorming ideas for our meals, i remembered this dish by giada i used to make in college for large crowds. it was always a huge hit, but called for 3 kinds of cheese and a lot of butter. i set out to recreate the dish using vegan ingredients and can't tell you how delicious the result was! in my opinion, it's far better than the original recipe, and is a lot healthier to boot. this is one i'll be making again and again!

vegan baked penne with roasted vegetables and creamy smoked cheese sauce (2)

ingredients for the creamy smoked cheeze sauce

- 3 tbs earth balance butter
- 3 tbs flour (GF if you prefer)
- 3 cups plant milk (i used plain almond milk)
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- dash of tabasco sauce
- dash of nutmeg
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp mesquite liquid smoke
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tbs dijon mustard (i used smoky dijon, yum!)
- 1 tsp salt and pepper each
- 2 1/2 cups daiya mozzarella cheese


in a medium stock pot, melt the butter and flour together over medium heat, whisking until bubbly and well combined. pour in the milk and whisk to combine. as you wait for the milk mixture to come to a boil, add all of the remaining ingredients except for the daiya cheese. whisk continually until mixture begins to boil and increase in volume (be careful, this happens quickly and you don't want it to spill over!). remove from heat and whisk in the daiya mozzarella cheese until melted.

vegan baked penne with roasted vegetables and creamy smoked cheeze sauce (1)

ingredients for baked penne with roasted vegetables

- 2 red or yellow peppers
- 4 zucchini
- 1 cup mushrooms
- 1 yellow onion
- 1/3 cup coconut oil (or extra-virgin olive oil)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 Tbs dried herbs de provence
- 1 pound penne pasta (use GF if preferred)
- 3 cups marinara sauce
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
- one batch of creamy smoked cheeze sauce (recipe above)


preheat oven to 450°F. chop the peppers, zucchini, mushrooms and onion being careful to keep them all roughly the same size so they roast and bake evenly. toss with the oil, salt, pepper and herbs de provence. roast on a large baking sheet until tender, about 15 minutes.

while the veggies are roasting, make the creamy smoked cheeze sauce (recipe above), and set aside. bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat, add the pasta and cook for about half as long as the package directs you to. you'll want the pasta to still be firm, as you'll be cooking it a second time in the oven. drain in a colander and set aside.

in a large bowl or pan, toss the roasted veggies with the pasta, marinara sauce, creamy smoked cheeze sauce and peas. pour into a lightly greased large baking dish and bake until the top is golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.

vegan baked penne with roasted vegetables and creamy smoked cheeze sauce (4)

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  • OH MY GOODNESS. This is SO delicious!! I found this recipe through FB when Daiya posted it today, and I am so happy! The smoked cheese sauce it totally to die for! I was only making this for my husband, my two toddlers, and myself so I sort of eyeballed measurements to reduce the recipe down by about 3/4 so it wasn’t exact but it still was fantastic! Thank you!!

  • That looks so good and WOW! 12 men for 3 meals x3 days? I am sure many if not all of them left re-thinking veganism and it’s delicious-ness. My parents are vegan (I grew up lacto-veg) and when I stay with them, I don’t miss meat because my mom cooks so well.

  • Yum~I am a little veg hound.
    Will try this one but will try w/wheat pasta.
    Some of the other recipes look great too.
    Thank you~You are a doll…Love L

  • Just want to comment on the “BAKED PENNE & ROASTED VEGETABLE & CREAMY SMOKED CHEEZE SAUCE. This recipe has become one of my favorites. It is terribly delicious and easy to make. I made this last night (4/6/2013) and had it again for lunch with a salad today, yummy! Thanks Bonnie!

  • This dish was so amazing! I am sharing it with everyone in prep of VegWeek that is starting Monday. My husband is a new Vegan and this is now one of his favorites! Thank you!
    -Samantha Vaughn

    • hey brooke! the nutritional yeast is what gives it a very nutty, cheesy flavor. you can just leave it out but know that it won’t be quite as cheesy tasting. :) good luck!