Sunday, October 5, 2014

Penne alla Vegan Vodka Sauce

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the National Pasta Association and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.
I eat out a lot. It's getting to be a problem. (I signed up for a professional culinary course, just to force myself to cook more. A little drastic/expensive? Yes. But I think it will be worth it). My preference is always Thai, Mexican, Ethiopian or Middle Eastern cuisines. But my boyfriend's favorite is Italian. He could eat pizza and pasta twice a day for the rest of his life and be happy. This is not an exaggeration. Italian isn't the friendliest for those of us who can't eat dairy without running immediately to the bathroom, but I'll take one for the team and have my olive oil drenched pasta while eying everyone else's delicious meal.

October is National Pasta Month, and I'm  not going to lie, pasta is a staple in our house, not just because Jesse loves it, but because it's so fast to whip up. You really can't go wrong with pasta + veggies + beans,and it never takes over 25 minutes.  Hello weeknight savior! It taste great, and it's a balanced nutritious meal. So when I found out there was a pasta Recipe Redux contest, I knew I had to up my cooking ante and try something I've always admired, but haven't tasted since before the age of 12.  Don't worry--Jesse has had both regular and this version of vodka sauce and this gets his thumbs up.

Before we get to the recipe, let's talk about the vodka in vodka sauce. Pretty sure I ordered this as a small child just because alcohol sounded cool and grown up. While I love Bloody Mary's now, the thought of eating vodka and tomatoes together still sounds a little strange... Thanks to food genius, Kenji Lopez-Alt, I now have the answer. You must check out his full explanation and experiment, but in short, vodka adds heat and a sharp note to balance out the sweetness of the tomatoes and the creaminess of...cream... So if you won't have vodka in your house, it's not the end of the world. But you should really have vodka in your house.
Plus, the alcohol almost all burns off, and you're left with 100% whole grain pasta, baby kale and mushroom goodness covered in delicious, decadent vodka sauce. 

Penne alla Vegan Vodka Sauce with Baby Kale and Mushrooms
Makes 4 servings

  • 12 oz 100% whole wheat penne pasta, dry
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes with garlic, canned
  • 14 oz diced tomatoes, no salt added, canned
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 small clamshell baby kale (about 2 cups) 
  • 14 oz can white beans drained and rinsed 
  • Pinch of sea salt
  1. Put water on to boil for pasta. 
  2. Blend cashews and water until it's a fine puree. Set aside.
  3. In one pan, start sauteing mushrooms
  4. In a second pan, saute onions with olive oil and red pepper flakes until onions turn translucent. Add in garlic and saute for one minute. 
  5. Add in both cans of tomatoes and vodka. Reduce heat to a simmer for 7 minutes.
  6. If your water is boiling by now, add pasta to boiling water, and cook according to package (usually 9-11 minutes). 
  7.  To sauteed mushrooms add white beans and kale. Simmer for 1 minute, turn off heat and cover.
  8. To tomato sauce, add cashew puree and nutritional yeast. Stir.
  9. Plate pasta and vegetables, and cover with vodka sauce. Enjoy!

Want more healthy pasta dishes? Start here:


Carlene Thomas RD said...

Your vegan sauces are the bomb.

Deanna - Teaspoon of Spice said...

Ahh, pasta is a huge staple in our house too and I'll be whipping up your recipe very shortly (love the AbFab gif :)

Kara said...

Vegan vodka sauce! Genius.

Selena @ The Nutritious Kitchen said...

haha that alcohol pic is classic! I fell in love with alla vodka sauce when I went to Italy for a summer and haven't had it since! I need to try your healthified version! :)

Cindys Recipes and Writings said...

This sauce sounds fantastic. I love the cashews in there.

Kelly @ hidden fruits and veggies said...

Vodka sauce is something I just can't say no to. Bonus points when it's dairy free! I'm crossing my fingers that I'm wrong, but I think I'm getting a little bit of a dairy sensitivity after 25 good years.

Liz - Meal Makeover Mom said...

I rarely cook with cashews. I really need to get on the bandwagon! Great looking recipe :)

Westlund Injury Lawyer said...

I love anything pasta. This is another version to try. Thanks a lot for sharing the recipe.

Have you viewed Alaska Bear Viewing vacations said...

I wouldn’t say it is my favorite, but I tend to rely on plain pasta with sauce. It is quick and easy and the kids like it. I definitely need inspiration!

Herna Ismayanti said...

Success continues and awaited for further info
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