vegan pasta

Peas and Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce

By the Gracious Vegan

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This creamy tomato sauce gives the traditional Italian vodka sauce a run for its money. Peas are the perfect complement to the nutty, cheesy sauce, and all kinds of pasta would work well in this dish. The sauce freezes well. 

Makes up to 21 servings

The Sauce (makes 7 cups). Soak cashews in cold water at least 2 hours, or pour boiling water over them, cover, and let them soak 20 minutes. (You can skip this step if you have a high-speed blender.)

  • 1 cup raw cashews

When ready, drain the nuts and put them in the blender with broth or water and blend on high for as long as it takes to create a very smooth “cashew cream.” 

  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water

In a Dutch oven or other large pan, sauté garlic and onions over medium heat in 2 Tablespoons vegetable broth or water until the garlic and onions are soft (or microwave with 1-2 Tablespoons water).

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced 

  • 1 red or white onion, roughly chopped 

Add the following ingredients to the pan and cook about 5 minutes.

  • 4 cups plain tomato sauce (or crushed tomatoes)

  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

Add in the cashew cream and the basil and stir. 

  • 2/3 cup fresh basil leaves (measured lightly packed, about 1 ounce), roughly chopped (or 1 Tablespoon dried basil, but fresh basil really makes a difference)

Use an immersion blender (or let the mixture cool a little and use a regular blender) to create a smooth sauce. You can add up to 1 cup water if the sauce is too thick. Make it as smooth or chunky as you like. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

  • Salt and pepper to taste (I use 1/2 teaspoon salt)

The peas and pasta. For each serving, use

  • 2 ounces chunky pasta (whole wheat or other whole-food version preferred)

  • 1/3 cup frozen peas (I like petite peas)

Boil the pasta and add the peas into the pasta for the last 3 minutes of cooking. Once they are cooked to your liking, drain them and combine with about 1/3 cup sauce per serving.

Timing: hands-on time 25 minutes; total time 25 minutes  

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Nutritional information per serving: 298 calories, 3g fat, 1g sat. fat, 55g carbs, 329mg sodium, 10mg fiber, 13g protein 

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free pasta

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Garlicky Grape or Cherry Tomatoes with Angel Hair Pasta

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This easy recipe turns any grape or cherry tomatoes into an intriguing pasta dish that will keep you coming back for more. The combination of garlic, tomato juices, fresh basil, and vegan parmesan cheese creates a magical sauce that’s just hard to stop eating.

Makes 4 servings

Start a large pot of water to boil. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (4-6” from element). Use a 15” x 10” Pyrex pan or large rimmed baking sheet (optional to line with foil; do not line with parchment paper, which will burn) and lightly spray with oil (optional). Put broiler on high. 

Spread the tomatoes on the baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Broil, shaking the pan occasionally, until they are cracked, very soft, and shrunken, about 15-20 minutes. They’ll be blackened in places. 

  • 2 pints (20 oz.) grape or cherry tomatoes

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Microwave the garlic cloves for 45-60 seconds to soften them. Then chop them. 

  • 4 large or 5 small cloves garlic, peeled

Cook the pasta and drain. Return to the pot.

  • 8 ounces dried whole wheat angel hair pasta

Add the following ingredients to the pasta, toss, and serve.

  • The tomatoes

  • The garlic

  • Large pinch dried red pepper flakes

  • 12 large basil leaves, fresh, chiffonade-cut (i.e., sliced thin)

  • 1/3 cup vegan parmesan cheese

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 

  • Fresh ground pepper

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: About 30 minutes

Gluten-free if gluten-free pasta is used

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Pasta e Fagioli

By the Gracious Vegan

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“When the stars make you drool, like a pasta fazool / That's amore.” This stew is worth singing over! I started with an Olive Garden copycat recipe I found, then I had to take out the oil and meat and build up the meatless flavor. It works! The fresh basil and the combination of oregano, thyme, and garlic give this a classic and satisfying taste. Topping with vegan parmesan adds more layers of flavor and texture and is so worth it.

Makes 7.5 cups (5 servings)

Put the following ingredients in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer, partly covered, until vegetables are tender, 10-15 minutes. 

  • 1 small onion or half large onion, diced or chopped

  • 2 small/medium carrots, diced or chopped

  • 2 stalks celery, diced or chopped

  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water

Add the following ingredients and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, partly covered. 

  • 2 cans (15-ounce) of cooked beans (I like one can each of pinto and small white beans, but any kind works well), drained and rinsed

  • 1 (16-ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced or petite-diced tomatoes

  • 1.5 teaspoons dried oregano

  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

While the stew is cooking, cook the pasta to al dente according to package instructions; drain well and set aside.

  • 1 cup (dry) small pasta (ditalini is a common choice, but choose any kind you want)

After the stew is cooked, add the following ingredients, stir, and serve. 

  • The cooked pasta

  • 1/3 cup (well packed) chopped or sliced fresh basil (or 1.5 teaspoons dried basil added earlier with the other spices, but fresh works better)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Optional topping:

If there are leftovers, the pasta will swell up and absorb some of the liquid. You can add water or more tomato sauce. 

Timing: about 45 minutes

Nutrition: whole food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Gluten-free if made with gluten-free pasta

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Pasta with Kale Pesto and Zucchini (or Potatoes)

By the Gracious Vegan

This is an easy dish that will get more rave reviews than the level of effort suggests it should. The secret is the lemony-briny flavors in the kale pesto. The pasta and zucchini serve as an excellent base, although you could go all-pasta, all-zucchini, pasta-and-potatoes, or other bases that I haven't thought of.

Photo by  Jules on flickr

Makes 4 servings

If using potatoes instead of zucchini, cover the potatoes with cold water and bring them to a boil. Simmer about 25 minutes or until just tender.

  • 4 Yukon Gold or other boiling potatoes (not russet) (about 1 pound)

Then drain, peel, and coarsely chop the potatoes and set aside.

Start the pasta water boiling.

Make kale pesto

Place in a food processor and chop.

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled

Add remaining ingredients and process until desired smoothness is achieved.

  • 5-6 cups chopped kale, stems removed (about 4 oz.)

  • 3/8 cup blanched almonds (whole or slivered)

  • 3-6 Tablespoons water (start with 3)

  • 2 Tablespoons tahini

  • 1 Tablespoon capers, drained

  • 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast

  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice + 1 teaspoon lemon zest

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Cook and drain the pasta as directed on package. Add zucchini to the pasta pot during the last 4 minutes of cooking.

  • 8 ounces dry pasta of your choice (chunky or long)

  • 3 small or 2 medium zucchini, diced

Toss pasta and zucchini (or the roughly chopped potatoes) with about half of the pesto at first; see if you need more. 

Timing: 25-45 minutes, depending if you use potatoes (longer) or zucchini (shorter)

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed

Gluten-free if gluten-free pasta used

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Pasta with Creamy Beet Sauce

By the Gracious Vegan

When I was a vegetarian, I tasted a dairy-cream version of this at a friend's dinner party. What an epiphany! The dish is just fun--bowtie pasta with a vibrant pink sauce--and it tastes marvelous! Beets are super-nutritious, and using cashew cream instead of heavy cream moves this from the unhealthy to the healthy column. It takes a bit of courage to try this for the first time, but if you and your family or friends are adventurous eaters, go for it. 

Prepare the cashew cream. Quick-soak the cashews by pouring boiling water over them, covering them, waiting 20 minutes, then draining.

  • ½ cup raw cashew pieces

Once they are soaked, put the drained cashews in the blender and cover with water just until the water is at the same level as the top of the cashews. Blend for 2-4 minutes until the “cream” is entirely smooth – the cashews will essentially dissolve and become creamy.

In a large non-stick skillet, sauté the chopped onion in oil, vegan butter, or water

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil or vegan butter (Earth Balance) (it is fine to water-sauté if you are avoiding oil)

  • 1 small onion, chopped

Add wine and sauté another 3 minutes

  • ¾ cup white wine

Add beets and sauté another 5 minutes (add a little water and cover if they are not getting soft).

  • 3 medium beets, grated

To create the creamy sauce, process the onion/beet mixture in the blender or a food processor with the following

  • 1.5 Tablespoons lemon juice

  • The cashew cream

Sauté this creamy sauce in the skillet for 3 minutes or so in

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil or vegan butter

In the meantime, cook and drain the pasta

  • 12 oz. bowtie pasta

Serve by tossing the pasta and sauce together in a large pasta bowl, or serve the pasta and sauce in serving bowls on the table and let everyone serve themselves.

Have extra lemon slices for those who would like to squeeze more lemon juice on their dish.  

Timing: 35-40 minutes if you parallel-process all the components

Nutrition: Mostly unprocessed ingredients

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free pasta

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Roasted Green Beans and Zucchini on Rice, Pasta, or Baked Potato

By the Gracious Vegan

This is a versatile recipe: it's a great way to use green beans and zucchini (and who doesn't need to do that every now and then?) and a flexible approach to the base and the sauce. Experiment with different combinations: baked potato and creamy tomato sauce, rice and mushroom gravy, etc. Zucchini and green beans are infinitely adaptable and work with almost anything. 

Decide on your base: rice, rice pilaf (homemade or from a mix), baked potatoes (4), or pasta (8-12 ounces). Time the base to be ready after the vegetables have been in the oven 10 minutes.

Decide on a sauce: marinara, tahini sauce, enchilada sauce, creamy tomato sauce, easy gravy, etc. Have the sauce ready and hot.

 Preheat oven to 500°.

Trim the ends of the beans and cut them into half (or smaller) lengths.  Slice the zucchini into ¼” slices.

  • 1 pound green beans (or 1 pound yellow wax beans)

  • 2 medium-large zucchini

Toss them with the following ingredients in a plastic bag or a large bowl. Make sure the tahini is well distributed.

  • 1 Tablespoon tahini

  • 1 Tablespoon water

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • Grinds of black pepper to taste

Roast for 10-12 minutes, turning once after 7-8 minutes. Roast until brown and crisp to your taste. (Ovens vary widely, so your roasting time may be shorter or longer. Check frequently.)

Serve the vegetables over the base and top with your chosen sauce.

Timing: about 25 minutes if your sauce is already made or store-bought. Otherwise longer.

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed if you use brown rice, whole grain pasta, or baked potato and one of my sauces or another that is whole-food


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