Cheesy Broccoli Bake, Vegan Style

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Let’s face it, even as vegans we sometimes crave old omni comfort food.  Like broccoli smothered in cheese sauce, right?

broccoli and cheese pasta 01

Fortunately for us (and as I’m sure you’re sick of hearing me mention), Robin Robertson is a genius across cuisines and provides a bunch of various mac and cheese recipes in 1,000 Vegan Recipes. A few nights ago, I made her broccoli, potato, white bean, and walnut concoction from the same book and had some broccoli left over, and so when I went looking for another pasta dish to bake, the recipe for broccoli and shell pasta in a cheese sauce caught my eye.

broccoli cheese pasta 02

I didn’t have any little shells, but I did have some adorable Barilla Piccolini wagon wheels.  (Who else loves tiny pasta shapes?)  The recipe was incredibly easy, using only the pasta, broccoli, a little salt and pepper, and a cheese sauce recipe from further back in the book.  Even that was simple enough and only took ten or fifteen minutes to put together.  It was a pretty standard nutritional yeast/broth/non-dairy milk concoction that smelled remarkably cheese-like while it was heating up.  To bake, everything got mixed together, dumped in a casserole dish, and topped with some 30-Minute Vegan pretzel crumbs I had around in lieu of bread crumbs.

broccoli cheese pasta 03

As a side note, that pretzel crumb recipe is amazing.  It’s nearly impossible to find vegan bread crumbs around here!  Since I love pretzels anyway and there are always bits hanging around at the bottom of the pretzel bag, I whip up a batch from time to time and use it whenever a recipe calls for bread crumbs.  It makes great tempura batter, too, which is where the recipe is suggested in the cookbook.  Though this batch was a little on the salty side, it worked fine in this recipe, making for a delicious, crispy topping to the bake.

broccoli cheese pasta meal 01

The overall flavor of this is mild enough that you could put pretty much any veggies you wanted in it and have it taste amazing.  Bell peppers would go good with the broccoli, or cauliflower.  Peas and carrots would work, too, or even leafy greens.  Or you could make it without any veggies at all and have a pretty smashing side dish for a potluck.  As it was, it made a hearty, comfort-food meal that had my mom, brother, and I all going back for seconds.  And I don’t do seconds, so that should say something about how good it was!

broccoli cheese pasta meal 02


About the Author:

Sam has been eating a plant-based diet since summer of 2009 and has spent the subsequent years experimenting with all manner of plant-based food. She holds a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and is a graduate of the Bauman College Nutrition Consultant Program. She is a former member of Toastmasters International and was awarded a Competent Communicator designation for public speaking. When she's not blogging or cooking, Sam likes to read and study the Bible, play silly card games and knit socks.
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  1. Jennifer  January 14, 2011

    How was the cheese sauce? I just made Veganomicon’s recipe. I’d never made a vegan cheese sauce before and wasn’t sure what I was expecting so was surprised that it was so noochy (even with the large amount of nutritional yeast). It took me a few tastes to get used to it, but then I put it over steamed broccoli and liked it. Are all these type of sauces pretty noochy?

    • Sam  January 14, 2011

      The best “cheese” sauce I’ve had so far is the nacho sauce for the “We Will Rock You Three-Layered Nachos” in The 30-Minute Vegan. I posted a pared-down version of it with my Zucchini Quesadilla recipe. It’s a little noochy-tasting, but has a nice, full flavor because it includes chili powder and a couple other seasonings. It thickens up nicely, too!