Baked pasta dish for a hearty dinner on Meatless Monday

Many of us made New Year's resolutions to eat healthier, more nutritious food -- but at this time of the year, the most appealing foods are often the stick-to-your-ribs kind that provide fuel to power through the colder weather. But this baked pasta is the best of both worlds: nutritious and filling. Adapted from Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook, we added some oil and tweaked amounts for your cheesy (dairy-free!) baked-pasta pleasure.

See also: - White beans and kale with parsnips on Meatless Monday - Southwestern-style quinoa salad for a lunchtime protein punch on Meatless Monday - Baba ghanouj wraps with marinated tomatoes on Meatless Monday

You will need: 4 medium onions 1 medium red bell pepper 3 tablespoons cashews 1 tablespoon tahini 1 cup nutritional yeast 4 cloves garlic 1 tablespoon oregano 6-7 tablespoons olive oil 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (with basil, preferably) 1 pound whole-grain pasta -- ziti or rotini work nicely Salt and black pepper to taste 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place the cashews on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 5 minutes. Turn the heat up to 375 degrees F when finished. 2. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Coarsely chop two of the medium onions and add to the oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or so, until onions are soft. While the onions cook, coarsely chop the pepper. The onions will be soft and translucent when finished. Put them in a blender. 3. Puree the onions in the blender. (Don't wash that saucepan, we'll use it again in a minute.) Add the chopped-up bell pepper to the blender. Puree until smooth. Add the cashews and the tahini. Blend. Add the nutritional yeast and the salt. Puree until smooth and set the sauce aside. (Is your water boiling yet? Add the noodles to it and boil until barely al dente -- you want them to be firm, as they will continue to cook in the oven.) 4. Heat the remaining oil in the saucepan and chop the remaining two onions (more finely this time). Peel the garlic. Cook the onion in the heated oil for seven minutes or so. When the noodles finish cooking, drain and set aside. Add the oregano and garlic to the onion. Stir and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes. Stir and cook for another five minutes or so. Add the noodles and mix until combined with the tomato sauce. 5. Spoon the noodles into your baking dish. Pour the mock-cheese sauce over the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until bubbly. Serve with a salad and garlic bread or just as is!

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Amber Taufen has been writing about people, places and things in Denver since 2005. She works as an editor, writer, and production and process guru out of her home office in the foothills.
Contact: Amber Taufen