Pasta is truly one of the most loved and comforting foods that we all enjoy and now plant-based pasta is becoming a new must have.
There are great, exciting and very satisfying plant-based pasta sauce ideas that have emerged over the last couple of years that really are completely compelling that you will want to work into your regular meal repertoire.
Spiralled vegetables such as zucchini, beets, sweet potatoes, butternut squash have really helped change and up the pasta meal. The texture and consistency of the vegetable “noodles” can provide a satisfying and toothsome alternative to wheat pasta and up your vegetable quota for the day.
A meal of spiralled vegetables topped with a plant-based sauce feels less heavy and still fulfills that craving for wheat pasta and a dairy rich or meat sauce. There are lots of different spiralling vegetables tools on the market for do it yourself noodles but often they can’t spiral a dense vegetable such as beets, or butternut squash. Fortunately there has also been an awareness by grocery stores for a demand for vegetable noodles so they can now often be purchased in the produce section in stores.
There has also been a realization that there is a demand for a quality gluten free pasta, so there are now some amazing gluten free pastas available. It is the best time to be eating a plant based gluten free diet.
Gluten Free Pasta Suggestions
- In our recipe index our Creamy Cauliflower Sauce that is fast and versatile. It can fill in for a traditional dairy based béchamel sauce for a vegetable lasagna or as a fresh sauce to toss with fresh peas and herbs tossed with a gluten free pasta or spiralled vegetables as noodles. Again as it is a cauliflower based sauce, you are getting extra servings of vegetables disguised as a sauce.
- An Italian ragu-style plant based sauce, Walnut and Cauliflower Bolognes, in our recipe index, emulates the texture and satisfying comforting of a tomato meat based sauce. The toasted chopped up walnuts and chopped up cauliflower substitute for the ground beef so it is high in protein as well as increasing the vegetable content in the dinner. It is hard to imagine it is only vegetables and nuts in the sauce.
- Cashew cream is another wonderful recipe that is an incredible fill in for a béchamel or Alfredo sauce. It does require some prep and thinking ahead as the cashews do need to be soaked in water and kept in the fridge for at least 24hrs. I would recommend 48hrs as it helps create a very creamy sauce. As the cashew cream is nut based, it is high in protein and works incredibly well as an Alfredo sauce, in a vegetable lasagna or in the Greek dish moussaka.
- Of course, a pesto is a very quick, simple and delicious pasta sauce. Often we think of pesto being fresh basil, parmesan, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and pine nuts but doesn’t need to be so.
Walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, pecans can be toasted and used. Parsley, cilantro, baby kale works well as an alternative for basil, and nutritional yeast fulfills the parmesan flavour.
The olive oil is necessary for the sauce and the garlic helps round out the flavour of the pesto. Pesto is a “paste” so anything can be added to create the sauce to coat the pasta. Sun Dried tomatoes in oil are also a lovely addition of flavour to a pesto sauce.
Check out our Vegan Mac & Cheese recipe on our website for a delicious baked version of a dairy and gluten-free mac & cheese.
Publisher’s Note: Carol Dudar is a Toronto based recipe developer and food stylist.