Vegan pasta recipes
May 24, 2014 5:28 AM   Subscribe

Can you give me some ideas for vegan pasta dishes?

Looking for new and interesting vegan pasta ideas. I'm particularly interested in lesser-known ideas, like I know to do tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil or olive oil and garlic. I like chard, raisins, and hot pepper flakes, for example. I think that's a little lesser known. I'm interested in things like that.

I'm also interested in subbing out textural equivalents (like using toasted sunflower seeds instead of bacon in a spinach salad). Doesn't have to be Western-tradition-type pasta dishes, these are just examples.

The pasta itself already does not contain egg.

('No Thanks' to any vegan animal product substitute things, I've found them pretty universally gross except for some veggie patties and vegannaise with a ton of chipotle pepper to kill the aftertaste.)
posted by A Terrible Llama to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Roast butternut, onion, rocket and something salty (to replace feta).
posted by katrielalex at 5:33 AM on May 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Two of our favorite things for dinner and I never make enough because they're so damned good are from the Simple Veganista:

High Protein White Bean and Cauliflower "Alfredo" Sauce and Macaroni and Cheese. They don't reptend to be anything they're not and there are a lot of delicious recipes on her blog.

Whole foods, minimally processed anything and trust me, that alfredo sauce is insane (we don't use the sun dried tomatoes and add a lot more garlic and spinach and kale and OMG).
posted by kinetic at 5:38 AM on May 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure if this is too close to mock meat, or perhaps not far enough from the usual, but I love using brown lentils (preferably the small french ones) in a tomato sauce so that it's like meat sauce. (I discovered earlier today that the stuff I've been confidently calling bolognese all my life is not actually bolognese!) I must admit I usually throw in some fake beef stock, which may not be your thing, but if you fry up some mushrooms that would be nice and savoury too.
posted by Cheese Monster at 6:05 AM on May 24, 2014 Mixind the spaghetti with the veggies doesn't work for us; we serve with the veggies on top. Check to see if you want to salt it a bit more, or add a salty topping. Not pasta, but delicious. Takes a long time, though.
posted by SemiSalt at 6:21 AM on May 24, 2014

Peanut sauce stir fry. Use your favorite veggies for the stir fry. There are peanut sauce recipes all over the place. Dump it over the pasta (rice or barley works too.)
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 6:22 AM on May 24, 2014

I will direct you to the vegan pasta recipe section of one of my favorite blogs, Oh She Glows.
posted by Kitteh at 6:24 AM on May 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

A favorite of an old friend of mine was sweet potato, radicchio, pecans and chives with olive oil. She'd cut up the sweet potatoes into little cubes and parboil them. Then, cut the strips of radicchio, mince the chives. In a pan she would roast the sweet potato cubes with some salt until they got a little brown, and then do the same with the radicchio, then toast the pecans really quick. Mix it all up with your pasta (she liked shells) and don't forget the chives and olive oil. She called it "harvest pasta" and I have no idea where she got it from but it was delicious and colorful. Sometimes she'd switch up the pecans for some other nut, and once she used walnut oil, which was strange but good.
posted by Mizu at 6:28 AM on May 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


A pasta dish I do sometimes is your basic Alia in olio (garlic in olive oil), with added chopped walnuts, bread crumbs...and anchovies. But I wonder if you couldn't just swap out the anchovies for capers or chopped olives.

The Sundays at Moosewood cookbook also has a great recipe for pasta fagiole that uses white beans and a ton of vegetables and is more like a pasta sauce than the traditional stew. I believe that's also vegan-friendly.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:28 AM on May 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Chermoula (you can buy it in the world foods section or make your own makes a gorgeous stir-in sauce with olive oil, garlic and spinach. Great vegan alternative to pesto too as it doesn't have cheese in - yay!
posted by Dorothea_in_Rome at 6:32 AM on May 24, 2014

In a baking dish with proper sides (ie, not a cookie sheet) toss whole white mushrooms and big wedges of sweet onion with olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake at 400 for between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on how long you have (longer is better). Toss the mushrooms and onions with wide, thin pasta (a vegan egg noodle would be great).

PS: the mushrooms and onions are also amazing on a fresh crusty baguette.
posted by kate blank at 6:57 AM on May 24, 2014

I've had good results making basil/garlic pesto with miso paste instead of Parmesan cheese. I don't have any recipes handy, but I've found that, in general, miso paste makes a good substitute for cheese. Nutritional yeast (nooch) works also, but I once tried making the pesto both ways, so I could do a side-by-side comparison. My wife and I both thought that the miso version tasted better than the nooch version.
posted by alex1965 at 7:10 AM on May 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Chop a lot of garlic, fry it in a couple of T olive oil until it just starts to brown (seriously - someone suggested this when we were cooking together and it makes a difference). Now you mix things in based on personal taste - you will need reserved pasta water, nutritional yeast, lemon or lime juice, sriracha or chili or cayenne, salt. Start with 1/4 C nutritional yeast, a little salt, about 1/2 a lime's worth of juice and stir. Continue to add various ingredients until you get to a texture and flavor that you like. This is my default quick pasta sauce and it has proved widely popular.

Also, I find that broiled chopped red bell pepper sauted with chopped olives and garlic is a good mix-in. Set the broiler on high, broil for ~10 minutes with the tray set 4-5 inches under the broiler, do not peel off the browned bits. (If you broil for a really long time, you'll have a lot of blackened bits and you'll probably want to peel many of those off.)
posted by Frowner at 7:12 AM on May 24, 2014

Marcella Hazan's other terrific and easy tomato sauce:

2/3 cup each of diced carrots, celery, onion.
3-4 blanched, peeled roma tomatoes (or the equivalent from a can).
1/3 cup Olive oil.

Toss tomatoes and vege in a pan, along with a bit of salt. Cook over medium, medium-low heat for 25-30 minutes -- until most of the liquid has cooked away and carrots and onions have become soft and released their sweetness.

Stir in the olive oil and cook for another 15 minutes or so. Serve over your favorite pasta. Last night I served it over baked polenta. I've used it to flavor roll up sandwiches and spread it on hunks of bread, bruschetta-like, too.
posted by notyou at 7:12 AM on May 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

This recipe from Serious Eats is just a variation on the standard tomato, basil, garlic, olive oil routine, but the mint and lemon really set it apart. If you have fresh herbs on hand, it's definitely worth a try.

This "full of veg" tomato sauce from Jamie Oliver looks good, but I haven't tried it yet myself.
posted by gueneverey at 8:39 AM on May 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Now that I'm awake, I can confirm that the Moosewood pasta fagioli recipe is indeed vegan-friendly - it's tomato-based, with carrots, celery zucchini, cannellini, and some chopped spinach or chard, with basil, oregano, and garlic for seasoning. So it's your basic tomato with a crapton of vegetables and some cannellini.

They also have a roasted red pepper sauce which was quite good - a simple tomato based sauce with about 2 cups of roasted red pepper strips in; and a "summer pasta" which is just a lot of chopped tomato and baby zucchini sauteed just briefly and then tossed with the pasta, a handful of pine nuts, and some cubes of mozzarella; I'm sure you could just leave out the mozzarella. I've also had some great pasta dinners made out of pasta tossed with nothing but swiss chard sauteed with a little garlic.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:48 AM on May 24, 2014

I grew up in an Italian-American household, in the days when Catholics did not eat meat on Fridays - and, my mother did not cook fish. Also we didn't have a lot of money. Almost every Friday we'd have some variant of pasta in marinara sauce with some sort of beans - pasta e cici (chickpeas), pasta e lenticchie (lentils), pasta e piselli (peas). Although it was always the same Neapolitan red sauce, it at least gave us the illusion of variety. And it was good.
posted by mr vino at 8:49 AM on May 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is my all-time favorite vegan pasta recipe.

I also love making a quick-n-dirty peanut sauce for pasta with assorted veggies. Splash of sesame oil, splash of rice vinegar. 2 TB of peanut butter or so. Lots of soy sauce. Chopped ginger, red pepper flakes, chopped garlic to taste. Swirl around in the bottom of a bowl and add hot pasta. Coat and devour. This is great hot or cold.
posted by mynameisluka at 9:34 AM on May 24, 2014

Here's one of mine: One-Pot Chili and Pasta.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:39 AM on May 24, 2014

Definitely get your hands on some nutritional yeast (colloq. nooch) which provides amazing vegan umami, especially on pasta. And popcorn. And kale chips. And tofu. And just dumped out of the bag, if the bag is angled directly into one's ravenous, gaping maw.

Roasted butternut alfredo sauce: with cashews, without cashews. If you use fresh squash, toss the seeds in olive oil and a bit of kosher salt, toast them in the oven, and sprinkle them on top of the pasta at the end. Chopped walnuts are great, too.

Tofu ricotta: with cashews, without cashews. This is really good for stuffed shells and baked ziti but also just plunked on top of a bowl of spaghetti and marinara.

Peanut noodles, sesame noodles, peanut sesame noodles.

The famous VegNews vegan macaroni and cheese.

Fresh chile puttanesca, just leave out the anchovies.

Avocado pesto or avocado cream sauce linguini topped with coconut bacon or shiitake bacon.

Kale and white bean pasta with spicy pinto bean sausages.
posted by divined by radio at 9:50 AM on May 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

We're dairy free but not vegan so this may not be for super-strict vegans but I like to grill peppers, zucchini, onions and chard, lightly oiled and salted, in the summer. .I'll usually take some olive oil and garlic and warm it onthe stove so the oil gets a nice garlic flavor then when the veg are done I'll toss them with pasta and the oil. It's really good.

My other mostly veg recipe is to sauté green onions, carrots, peppers and other interesting vegetables together, add rice noodles, coconut milk or cream, Japanese curry powder and garam masala to them and cook until the noodles are done. Add a little soy sauce or vegetarian fish sauce and you're done. Usually I make this with meat but you don't have to.
posted by fiercekitten at 10:06 AM on May 24, 2014

I cook some penne and add broccoli florets to the pot during the last minute or two of cooking, then drain it all together. While the pasta boils, I warm some garlic and hot pepper flakes in a bunch of olive oil and rinse off a can of chickpeas. Toss the drained pasta, broccoli, and chickpeas together with the garlicky olive oil, add a couple of squeezes of lemon juice and a generous amount of salt. I've served this to many vegans and have gotten lots of compliments.
posted by katie at 1:27 PM on May 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

For a delicious change of pace, try cold/room temperature peanut noodles. This recipe from Serious Eats is vegan and delicious.
posted by rossination at 6:27 AM on May 25, 2014

I just tried this recipe this weekend (after having something similar at a local cafe):

Orzo with Fresh Parsley & Veggies:
Cook orzo the way you like it (add ~half the salt the package says -- I like mine a little softer than al dente)
Meanwhile, cook 1/2 a chopped onion, 1/2 chopped tomato, a few chopped Crimini mushrooms, chopped Calamata olives, and various Italian spices (in my case, rosemary, basil, & oregano).
Once onions have softened (~10 min @ med heat), splash some balsamic vinegar in there to taste.
Add 1/3 cup fresh julienned parsley and cook it down (we want it wilted).
Mix in the orzo, some olive oil, and you're done!

You can mix it up too -- I added a chopped yellow bell pepper to add some crunch. Roasted or sun-dried tomatoes will add a bit of pleasant tang.

Also, if you can find a mac & "cheese" recipe that actually tastes decent, let me know. I've tried several, and I have yet to taste anything I liked. The nutritional yeast dominates the flavor, and it has an unpleasant breathy/yeasty aftertaste.
posted by spiderskull at 7:39 PM on May 25, 2014

Oh, and lemon! Don't forget the lemon. It pairs well with fresh parsley.
posted by spiderskull at 7:40 PM on May 25, 2014

I like pasta this way: sautée some onions until they are translucent, then mushrooms (sliced portabellas or criminis) until they start to shrink. Then add whatever other non-leafy veggies you have on hand (summer squash, bell peppers, carrots are all good) and sautée until they start to get soft. Add sliced/minced garlic. Then add tomato sauce (or canned tomatoes if you don't mind a chunky sauce). Right before you're ready to eat, add some sort of leafy green to the sauce.

This is a great way to get lots of veggies into a meal. The only veggies to stay away from are those from the brassica family (broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts). They're great on their own but in this dish can release an overpowering bitter flavor.

I will sometimes make a big pot of this sauce and freeze the leftovers, which hold up well.
posted by lunasol at 4:51 AM on May 26, 2014

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