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This artichoke pasta-bake is a creamy and simple Italian recipe that is perfect for those early spring days, when the sun is shining but the air is still cold outside.
We make this recipe 100% plant-based by adding potatoes and peas to the artichokes, and then mixing the pasta with vegan white sauce, parmesan and ricotta.
Artichoke is a delicious vegetable that in Italy we prepare in many different ways. Here I'll show you how to clean artichokes and then how to cook them in a pan. Then I mix in pasta, vegan ricotta, vegan béchamel and vegan parmesan, and bake in the oven.
Ingredients & Substitutions
For the pasta sauce
- Artichokes: the main ingredient in this recipe. Any kind of fresh artichoke works. Frozen artichokes work too, but fresh ones are unbeatable.
- Potatoes: regular potatoes are fine. Skin off.
- Green peas: great to add sweetness, colour and protein to this pasta dish. Frozen or fresh are equally good for this recipe.
- Flat-leaf parsley: our herb of choice for this dish. It's perfect with both potatoes and artichokes.
- Garlic: to give flavour to our sauce.
- White wine: optional but recommended to deglaze the artichokes.
- Béchamel (white sauce): here's the full recipe. I make it plant-based with sunflower oil, soy milk, all-purpose flour, nutmeg, and salt.
- Vegan parmesan: here's the full recipe. I make it with peeled almonds, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and salt.
- Vegan ricotta: here's the full recipe. I make this with soy milk and lemon juice.
- Pasta: store-bought Italian dry pasta made with hard-wheat semolina flour. You can pick any shape that has a large hole in it. I like to make this with bronze-cut rigatoni.
For the béchamel sauce you'll need a whisk. For the vegan parmesan you'll need a blender or food processor. For the vegan ricotta you'll need a clean kitchen cloth or a cheese cloth.
Mistakes I made
- I picked the wrong soy milk for the ricotta: to make the vegan ricotta your soy milk should have at least 7.5% soy content. Also, it should NOT contain added sugar, flavours or any other added nutrients like calcium and vitamins.
- I overcooked the pasta: only boil the pasta for half the time it says on the package. This is because the pasta will finish cooking in the oven.
- Prepare the day before: this artichoke pasta bake is simple but it has many parts that need to come together. Take it easy and prepare the vegan ricotta and the vegan parmesan the day before. Then it will be a breeze to make the pasta-bake the day after.
- Season all the elements: each piece of this recipe should be completely seasoned on its own. For instance, season the artichoke sauce well. Season your béchamel sauce well. And season your pasta cooking water well. When building a dish with more elements, seasoning each element will make all the difference.
- Don't eat it immediately: when making pasta-bakes you should wait about 15 minutes before eating after you take the dish out of the oven. This helps the flavours come together.
- Add some pasta cooking water: when mixing the pasta with the other ingredients you should add some pasta water to help melt everything together. Also, pasta water, thanks to its starch content, will make the final dish more creamy.
Frequently asked questions
No. In our experience vegan ricotta works best with unsweetened, plain soy milk with a soy content of 7.5% and above.
Yes. You can use any milk for the white sauce. Make sure it's unsweetened and doesn't have any added flavours.
Yes. You can use any vegetable oil of your choice, as long as its flavour is not too strong. However, in this specific recipe we recommend olive oil because it tastes great with the artichokes.
Yes. You can make béchamel with any flour. We love it with whole grain flour too.
Yes. You can skip the wine all together. I add wine to deglaze the artichoke because wine adds acidity, and that elevates the final dish.
Bronze-cut pasta is a type of Italian dry pasta that is shaped and cut through a bronze machine, instead of the usual stainless steel pasta machine. Bronze-cut pasta is better than steel-cut pasta because it's surface is rugged and sticks better to the sauce. Also, bronze cut pasta keeps better al dente.
Yes. Dry Italian-made pasta is generally vegan as it's made with only hard-wheat flour and water. If you are not sure always read the label.
If you have already cooked the pasta-bake then it is best eaten the same day of making it so that the pasta is still al dente and not overcooked. If you have any leftovers store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Warm it up in the oven at 180C / 356F for 10 minutes. Before warming it up you can add some olive oil on top and some extra ricotta or parmesan.
If you have NOT already cooked the pasta-bake you can store it covered in the refrigerator for 24 hours before cooking it.
Can you freeze pasta-bake?
Yes. This pasta-bake is also perfect to make in advance and it keeps well frozen for up to 3 months. Freeze it before cooking it in the oven, after mixing in all the ingredients. Let the ingredients cool down, then freeze it directly in the oven dish, covered in a freezer bag. When you are ready to eat it, take it out of the freezer and put it in a preheated oven at 180C / 356F for about 20 to 30 minutes.
How to cook artichokes in different ways
If like us you love artichokes, then here are some recipes that you can make instead of or in addition to this artichoke pasta bake.
In this blog post I show you how to clean, cook and eat artichokes like we do it in Italy. Carciofi alla Romana - or Roman-style artichokes, are a simple and yet delicious artichoke dish to serve as a starter, as a side, or as filling for an artichoke sandwich.
Deep fried artichokes - carciofi fritti in Italian - are another Italian recipe that will make you fall in love with this delicious vegetable. I make a light batter with cold water and flour and then I deep fry them in hot sunflowers oil.
We make artichoke hummus with the scraps - leftover leaves and stems - of the artichokes. We first boiled the scraps in water, then extract the pulp with a rotary vegetable mill. Then in a blender we mix the artichoke pulp with chickpea, lemon, mint, olive oil, salt and pepper for a unique, creamy, nutritious and delicious artichoke spread.
Another zero-waste vegan recipe made with the leftover cooking water from our roman-style braised artichokes. This is so simple, yet so delicious. All you have to do is to take all the leftover cooking water of your braised artichokes, then cook some spaghetti al dente and mix it in the artichoke water. Add some olive oil, fresh parsley, and if you still have some, a few pieces of artichokes. Enjoy!
This artichoke cream is made with 100% pure artichoke pulp extracted from the boiled scraps (leaves and stems) of the artichokes with a rotary vegetable mill. We only add a pinch of salt to this concentrate of flavour and nutrients. This is one of the most delicious and pure vegetable creams I have ever tasted. And it's made from artichoke waste!
This is best served with deep-fried artichokes. We first make a standard vegan mayonnaise with 2 parts of vegetable oil (we like to mix olive oil and sunflower oil) and 1 part of soy milk. Add a dash of lemon juice, a pinch of salt then mix it with the artichoke pulp extracted from the scraps of the artichokes with a rotary vegetable mill. Delicious!
Artichoke Pasta Bake
- 400 g pasta rigatoni
For the béchamel sauce
- 500 g soy milk unsweetened
- 40 g olive oil
- 40 g all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅓ tsp nutmeg
For the ricotta
- 1 liter soy milk unsweetened
- ½ lemon juice
- ½ tsp salt
For the parmesan
- 50 g almonds peeled
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- ½ tsp nutritional yeast
For the pasta sauce
- 4 artichokes
- 200 g potatoes
- 150 g green peas
- ⅓ cup dry white wine optional
- 1 clove garlic
- 4 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 handful parsley
- salt and pepper
For the parmesan
- Preheat the oven to 180C / 356F. Roast the almonds in the oven for 7 minutes. Let cool down for 10 minutes.
- Add almonds to a food processor and pulse into a coarse almond flour. While blending add nutritional yeast, soy sauce, and sea salt. Keep blending till you reach a consistency that is similar to grated parmesan.
- Taste it and adjust for salt. You might add more soy sauce or salt based on your taste. Let dry on a tray for about 30 minutes before use.TIP: do NOT over-blend the almonds or else they'll turn into almond butter.
For the béchamel
- In a small pot, warm up the plant milk with some grated nutmeg and a pinch of salt.
- In another pot, warm up the olive oil, add the flour, whisk and cook for about 2 minutes or until the mix starts to bubble - this is called roux.
- Add hot milk to the roux and keep stirring with a whisk on medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce becomes creamy. Add salt and nutmeg to taste.
For the ricotta
- In a pot, warm up the soy milk up to almost boiling temperature, then place it into a large glass, wooden, or ceramic bowl.TIP: don't use a metal bowl as it might interfere with the curdling of the milk.
- Add the apple cider vinegar (or the lemon juice) and stir with a wooden spoon for 1 minute. Then set aside for 10 minute. The milk should curdle.TIP: don't use a metal spoon as it might interfere with the curdling of the milk.
- In the meantime, put a sieve over a large bowl, then cover it with a piece of cheesecloth, or a clean kitchen cloth.TIP: make sure the cloth is white and it doesn't smell like washing detergent.TIP: make sure the sieve doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl, as we need space for liquid to drain the ricotta.
- After the 10 minutes, pour the curdled soy milk into the sieve, cover it, and let drain for at least 1.5 hours, but better if overnight in the fridge.TIP: place a smaller empty bowl on top of the curdle milk to add some weight and get a better drained, firmer ricotta.
- Once the milk has drained, your ricotta is ready to be used
For the pasta sauce
- Peel the potatoes, cut them into small dice and boil them in salted boiling water for a few minutes.
- Clean the artichokes. 1) cut off half of their stem and peel it. 2) remove the woody outer leaves. 3) cut off the top of the remaining leaves - about ⅓ of the head of the artichoke.TIP: put the clean artichokes in a bowl filled with cold water with some lemon juice in it to prevent them from browning.
- Cut each artichoke in 4, then with a paring knife remove the furry part inside of the artichoke. Now slice them thin.
- In a pan, warm up some olive oil and a crushed clove of garlic, then add the artichokes, cook for 5 minutes then add ½ glass of white wine to deglaze the pan. When the wine has evaporated add the frozen peas, salt, pepper, ½ cup of water and cook the sauce for about 15 minutes or until the artichokes are soft. Turn off the heat, add some chopped parsley, and set aside.
- Boil the pasta only for half of its cooking time. Then drain it and add it to a bowl. Add ⅔ of the artichoke sauce, the boiled potatoes, ¾ the béchamel, ½ of the ricotta, a handful of vegan parmesan, a pinch of salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, some fresh parsely, a dash of pasta cooking water, and gently mix everything together.
- Transfer the mix into a baking tray and add some more artichoke sauce and béchamel on top. Sprinkle with a handful or two of the parmesan, some ricotta and bake in a preheated oven at 200C / 390F for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Take out of the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving with some fresh parsley and a drizzle of olive oil on top.
Will you be cooking this recipe at home? Let us know in the comments below!