Vegan pasta recipes are definitely everybody’s favorites. The fact that in less than half an hour one can make – with the simplest ingredients found in the kitchen – a tasty and hearty pasta dish is something that makes some of them unbeatable. Moreover pasta is nutritious and, especially if accompanied with a light, plant-based sauce – for example a thick tomato sauce with lots of freshly grated tomato but without the excess oils and fats – it can provide you all the energy you need during a busy day.
Often, when we return back home after a long walk in Athens or after a day at work, I put a large pot with water to boil in order to cook some pasta and in the meantime I make in the food processor a pesto sauce with rocket (during this season is on its best) or a basil pesto or even a batch of kale pesto, preparing a delicious, vegan Italian pasta dish in only few minutes. Another alternative choice, especially for the sunny days like today, is a tasty tomato sauce enriched with cherry tomatoes, olives and capers and flavored with red wine and rosemary, with all these ingredients bringing together the most typical Mediterranean flavors in each bite.
The sauce has a rich tomato flavor that is beautifully combined with the slightly spicy taste of olives and capers and wonderful aromas of garlic and rosemary. One of the things that I like about this tomato sauce is that it is can be served with any kind of pasta as well as gnocchi. Fortunately, now, one can find ready-made gnocchi, without animal ingredients, packed tightly, in some large supermarkets. Since there are also brands that use eggs, check the labels first or if you have time try to prepare your own.
for the sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 sprig rosemary, fresh or dried
- 2 heaped tablespoons, capers
- 2 heaped tablespoons, olives (pick your favorite!)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 package 400g grated tomatoes (if you don’t want to use canned you can grate your own)
- salt and freshly ground pepper
500 gr gnocchi or pasta of choice
1. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the garlic and the rosemary over medium heat for two minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes olives and capers and sauté two minutes more.
2. Add the red wine, the grated tomato and a pinch of ground pepper and simmer for about 15 minutes until the sauce thickens. Meanwhile you can cook the pasta or gnocchi according to package instructions.
3. Taste the sauce, add salt or pepper if necessary and serve immediately. Because capers and olives are already salty, you just need a small amount of salt to achieve the right taste.
Being vegan does not mean being deprived of one’s favorite meals. The transition to a vegan diet can lead us towards an amazing world of new flavors and healthy recipes that not only relish our life, without involving animal-exploitation, but also nourish us, especially when we prepare our meals from scratch, without relying on store-bought, ready-to-eat products.
One of the dishes that I enjoyed as a vegetarian was the classical spaghetti with cream and mushrooms and for this reason I wanted to create its vegan version. Thus, vegan spaghetti with mushrooms is now one of the dishes we prepare often, not only for its wonderful taste –it is much better than the original- but also because it can be prepared easily.
The cream can be made either with sunflower seeds or with cashews -depending on what we have in hand. However we prefer the sunflower seed cream, since sunflower seeds have a great nutritional value and their cost is very low compared to cashew nuts -sunflower seeds cost three times less than cashews.
For extra flavor we can simply rely on our precious kitchen’s “little helpers” : some herbs and spices, a little bit of white wine, few pieces of sun-dried tomatoes, along with the mushrooms create a satisfying, unique complex of flavors and fragrances.
1 packet of spaghetti, 500 g (choose gluten-free if you like)
For the white sauce
- 1 cup shelled sunflower seeds, soaked for 2 hours and drained
- 2 cups water or vegetable broth
- 500 g white Agaricus mushrooms sliced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup sun-dried tomato cut into thin strips
- ½ cup white wine
- 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 handful chopped parsley
- 2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- ½ tsp Cayenne pepper
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- In a large skillet sauté the mushrooms with the olive oil over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Add crushed garlic, cayenne and wine, salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Put in the blender the drained sunflower seeds with the two cups of water, the nutritional yeast, the vinegar and lemon juice and blend on high speed for 3-4 minutes or until is formed a smooth cream.
- Add the sunflower cream in the skillet, along with the sun-dried tomatoes and the chopped parsley, stir and cook for 10 minutes until the sauce thickens. Taste and if necessary add salt or lemon juice.
- Boil the pasta according to manufacturer’s instruction and drain. Mix with the creamy sauce and serve while hot.
Note: If you do not have time to soak sunflower seeds, pour over them plenty of boiling water, let for 15 minutes to soften and drain. The rest of the process remains the same
Basil is one of my favourite summer herbs, not only for its bright green colour but also for its tiny, beautiful flowers, its fragrance, the flavor that adds to my dishes and also by the fact that I can always have fresh basil in my pots, especially during spring and summer. Unfortunately, when the weather gets colder, my beautiful basils start to wilt, but in spring, their seeds grow and new basils appear! So in the summer days, when basils are on their best, I like to pick their leaves and use them in several dishes. Today I decided to make a tasty pesto alla Genovese, using the traditional Italian recipe, replacing though parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast flakes.
Something that I like to do when I have plenty of basil leaves, is to prepare larger quantities of this pesto sauce and keep it in glass jars in the fridge for long time. By this way, we can have “fresh” pesto sauce all year long.
Pesto sauce is ideal for spaghetti, but we can also use it over toasted bread for a tasty bruschetta.
- 50 g or 2 cups of basil leaves
- 100 ml olive oil (slightly less than half a cup)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar or white vinegar or lemon juice
- ½ -1 tsp salt
- ½ -1 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 3 tbsp pine nuts or sunflower seeds
- Wash the basil leaves and dry them with a towel or paper towel (or spin them in the salad spinner).
- Roast nuts in a frying pan or in the oven until golden brown (it only takes few minutes).
- Add to the blender all ingredients together and blend 2-3 minutes until homogenized.
Bruschetta with basil pesto
Toast 10 small slices of bread of your choice on the grill or in a toaster. Spread on each slice 1 teaspoon pesto and serve.
Spaghetti with basil pesto
- Boil 1 packet (500 gr) spaghetti of your choice according to the package directions.
- Drain the pasta and rinse with water under a tap (but not too much if you don’ t want them to become cold).
- Drain well and pour back into saucepan.
- Add the pesto, mix with the pasta and serve.