Okay, hear me out! This doesn’t taste like pumpkin or pumpkin pie – just cheesy deliciousness. Pumpkin purée makes this vegan mac and cheese SO creamy, plus it’s just 9 ingredients and ready in only 15 minutes.
And PLEASE, for the love of GOD! Use pure pumpkin purée and NOT pumpkin pie mix!
Yes, I did put in on a burger with pickled jalapeños. I post things like this on my Instagram (@plantsinmypants) at least 3 times a week!
Penne alla Vodka was one of the first recipes I ever made in my first apartment, around 5 years ago. Mind you, I wasn’t vegan at the time so I didn’t know about the wonders of cashew cream. But now I do and here we are.
This dish is simple, creamy, hearty, and delicious – what more could you want?
So why vodka?
“Along with the penne pasta, this dish generally contains cream sauce mixed with marinara sauce or tomato paste, which are a combination unusual in Italian cooking because the acidity of the tomatoes tends to make the oil in the cream separate. The ethanol (vodka) serves as an emulsifier, allowing the water and lipids to remain mixed together.”
“Ethanol is also thought to solvate certain flavors from the tomato that would otherwise be inaccessible in water. This is seen in other vodka sauces, as well.”
1 (28 oz) can of crushed or petite diced tomatoes (sometimes I’ll do a 15 oz can of each for a more interesting texture)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Penne, cooked according to box instructions
Fresh parsley or basil for serving (optional)
Add the cashews to a blender along with the nutritional yeast and water, and blend until very smooth.
In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté onion in butter for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and sauté another 2 minutes until the onions are soft and slightly browned, and the mixture is very fragrant.
Pour in the vodka and let cook for about 5 minutes, until the alcohol has cooked off.
Add the tomatoes, stir, and let the mixture simmer for 10-15 minutes until thickened – you may need to lower the heat some.
Stir in the cashew cream and cook for about 10 more minutes, until the sauce is thick and creamy.
Add salt and pepper to taste (I usually end up not needing any), and mix well.
Serve over penne cooked according to box instructions, top with parsley or basil, and enjoy!
*If using a high powered blender, you don’t need to pre-soak your cashews to soften them. If you’re short on time, you can immerse the cashews in boiling hot water for 15 minutes (don’t keep the water boiling, just make sure it’s very hot when you put the cashews in, and then let them sit)
Oh man… Have I mentioned my love for sun-dried tomatoes before? Yes? Well I’m gonna say it again – that intense, sweet-tart flavor is everything!
Some lovely sun-dried tomatoes along with sautéed onions and garlic, white wine, baby spinach, and a cashew cream sauce make this vegan pasta dish so creamy and flavorful!
The fusilli pasta really grabs as much of the sauce as possible – it’s awesome.
Cook up this dish and be amazed as your multiple cups of spinach are reduced to what seems like a tablespoon. We’ve all been there, am I right?
Caution: be sure to cook enough for all parties present because your house will be smelling heavenly. Thank you onion, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes.
Anyways, let’s get to it:
Prep time: 10 minutes – Cook time: 15 minutes – Serves: About 4 people
1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight or use this quick boil method*
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup vegetable broth or water (if using water, you may want to add a bit more salt)
1 tbsp of oil from the sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 of one medium yellow onion, finely diced
3 – 5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3/4 cup julienne-cut sun-dried tomatoes in oil, roughly chopped
1/3 cup white wine (I used a vegan pinot grigio)
3 – 4 cups of baby spinach, optional
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
pasta water to thicken if needed
16 oz fusilli pasta, cooked (you could also use bowties, penne, fettuccine, you name it)
vegan parmesan for topping (optional)
Begin boiling the water for the fusilli pasta and cook according to package directions.
Make the cashew cream by blending cashews, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and vegetable broth until very smooth.
Heat oil over medium heat in a large pan and sauté the onion with a pinch of salt. Cook until tender and translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
Add in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute.
Then, toss in the sun-dried tomatoes and cook for about 2 minutes.
Pour in the wine and simmer for a few more minutes until the wine has reduced by half. Add spinach, if using, and cook until wilted.
Stir in the cashew cream and a few cracks of fresh ground black pepper until combined. Cook to thicken. If it gets too thick, stir in small amounts of the pasta water until desired consistency is reached. Add in the pasta noodles and stir again to coat.
Top with vegan parmesan if you’d like, serve, and enjoy!
*Quick-boiling cashews: If you’re not someone who plans out far enough ahead to soak cashews overnight, you can add the cashews to a small sauce pan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Once it starts boiling, remove from the heat immediately, cover with a lid, and let sit for 10 minutes to soften.
This vegan spaghetti sauce is so hearty and filling. Red wine, tomato paste, and soy sauce (!) are the key to creating this flavorful sauce. You probably have most, if not all of the ingredients at home already!
No need to feel rushed when making this recipe – when I make it at home, sometimes it takes 30 minutes and sometimes it takes an hour! This is especially true when I forget to boil pasta water until after I’ve finished the sauce…
I’ve listed the minimum cook times, but letting this sauce simmer for a while makes it that much more flavorful!
Half of 1 large yellow onion (or 1 small onion) finely diced
1 carrot finely diced
1 stalk of celery finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15oz can of petite diced tomatoes (no salt added)
1 8oz can of tomato sauce (no salt added)
1 tbsp tomato paste
A splash of red wine (I used pinot noir)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp basil
1 tsp oregano
A pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
Gardein meatless crumbles, or a similar product (I find that Gardein works best, however)
Heat olive oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Cook onion, carrot, and celery with a pinch of salt for 5 minutes until translucent.
Add in garlic and optional red pepper flakes, and cook for another minute.
Pour in the petite diced tomatoes (I like to swirl a little water in the empty can to get every last bit.) Add the tomato paste and a splash of red wine, as well. Let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes.
Next, add tomato sauce, basil, oregano, meatless crumbles, and soy sauce. Simmer for 5 more minutes.
Taste and add salt and pepper according to your own preference. (I usually just add a few cracks of pepper here because the soy sauce often makes it salty enough)
Serve over spaghetti noodles and enjoy! I also topped mine with some Follow Your Heart vegan parmesan and fresh basil leaves.