Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what “new” vegetarians and vegans eat before they realize that they haven’t compromised anything in their dietary habits and that there is an abundance of food available to them. Until I went vegan, there were foods I avoided simply because I didn’t know how to cook them and didn’t want to risk buying something “gross” or “weird.” All I can recall eating excessively in the beginning was pasta and sauce because it was easy, satisfying, and didn’t require much thought or preparation.
Well, as they say, old habits die hard and sometimes you just want to eat something simple and satisfying that doesn’t come out of the freezer section at the store. And sometimes, as they say, you want to feed to birds with one scone and make something simple with just a touch more class. So here’s my new take on the pasta and sauce staple. It’s 100% gluten-free, meat/cheese analog free, and goes well served with sauteed kale and broccoli. The sauce recipe makes a little over one standard store-bought pasta jar of sauce so, if you don’t use it all up at once, you will have plenty for leftovers!
1 box Quinoa Pasta (I used pagoda shaped)
1/2 medium sized butternut squash
1 organic red pepper, quartered
1 stalk celery
2 medium organic tomatoes, quartered
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 cup water
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 – 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp raw turbinado sugar
1 tsp dried thyme, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 tsp (a pinch!) cayenne pepper
Vegetable oil, for spraying on veggies
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Cut the butternut squash in half. Remove the seeds from one half. Spray the flesh side with vegetable oil and lay, cut side down, on a non-stick baking pan. Spray the quartered red pepper with oil and place it cut side down on the baking pan. Roast for 40-50 minutes. You may need to remove the red peppers from the oven at the 40 minute mark to prevent them from burning through. If they are somewhat burnt on the edges, that’s ok! The butternut squash may take the full 50 minutes!
While your veggies are roasting, prepare the rest of the sauce ingredients. In a food processor fitted with a grating/chopping disk, mince the celery. Remove the chopping disk and put the blade attachment on. Set aside. In a saute pan, place the olive oil and garlic and saute on medium high heat for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Next, add the onion and saute for about 5 more minutes. Sprinkle with a touch of salt. Remove from heat and pour into the bowl of the food processor. Blend until well combined. Add the tomatoes. Blend again.
When your roasted veggies are done, scoop out the butternut squash from the skin and place it in the food processor along with the roasted red pepper. Blend until fully combined. Next, pour all of the ingredients into a medium sauce pan. Add the water, tomato paste, nutritional yeast, and sugar. Cook on medium low stirring constantly for about 5 minutes. Next add the thyme, salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Stir well. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes.
Make the pasta according to the package instructions.
Serve alongside sauteed and seasoned kale and broccoli or your favorite veggies.