I’ve been wanting to share more recipes here on the blog, but lately I’ve been struggling to find time (and often inspiration) for developing new recipes. When you’ve got an active 7 month-old baby on your hands, you often resort to quick, tried-and-true recipes when making dinner.
I was recently making one of our favorite pastas – today’s vegan Balsamic Pasta – and I wondered why I haven’t shared this recipe here yet because honestly, it’s soooo delicious and quite easy to make! Even when a tiny 7 month-old human demands your attention all the time 🙂
I don’t recall when I got the idea to use homemade balsamic salad dressing on pasta instead of a more complicated sauce. I’m rarely in the mood for pasta with the classic red tomato sauce, and other pasta sauces are usually quite involved.
The simple balsamic dressing, however, does wonders for this vegan pasta dish, creating a flavor that’s bright enough to excite your palate, yet not too overbearing that it would cover the flavors of all the delicious veggies in this recipe.
I have to note here that I’m using olive oil as one of the key components of the balsamic sauce. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know that I mostly post oil-free recipes here.
In the beginning of my plant-based/vegan journey I steered clear of oil for the most part, following health recommendations of various plant-based diet masterminds. Since then my ways have changed – not that I don’t care about my health anymore 🙂 but I’m just not as rigid.
It’s entirely possible that this recipe would still work if you omit the oil and replace it with extra pasta water, but I haven’t tried that.
I use a pretty standard variety of veggies in this Balsamic Pasta (see the ingredients list), but you can totally use your own judgement and preferences, omitting or adding a few things. I’ve used arugula and broccolini instead of broccoli (my husband’s preferred substitution), skipped sundried tomatoes, olives or artichokes if I didn’t have any. You can also skip the vegan sausage if you’re trying to eat less processed food.
My favorite way to work with all the veggies in this recipe is to cook them in a wok. It allows plenty of room for the veggies to steam in their own moisture, plus mixing in the pasta and the sauce is easy. If you have a large heavy-bottomed pan, things will work out just as well.
For gluten-free substitutions, use gluten-free pasta and omit the vegan sausage. Although I hear that the new Beyond Meat sausages are gluten-free, so feel free to try them here, and let me know how they work out!
One more trick: this Balsamic Pasta can be served cold as a yummy pasta salad! Make it as is, or use a different type of pasta (bow ties, elbows, etc.) and wow everyone at your next summertime gathering.
A delicious vegan balsamic pasta that can be served hot or cold. The easy balsamic sauce brightens up the flavors of the veggies, making it a crowd favorite. Omit the vegan sausage for a more whole food plant-based version.
- 1/2 box pasta such as penne, rotini, bow ties, etc.
- 1 vegan sausage* (my favorite is Field Roast Italian), halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/4" thick half-moons
- Olive oil OR veggie broth/water, as needed to saute the veggies
- 1 large head broccoli, divided into florets
- 1 shallot, halved and sliced
- 2 medium carrots, julienned or sliced into 1/4" thick rounds
- 1 red or orange bell pepper, chopped into 1/4" thick sticks
- 5-6 crimini mushrooms, quartered
- 1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/4" thick half-moons
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, whole or halved
- 1/2 cup sliced black olives
- 1/2 cup canned artichoke hearts
- Any fresh herbs you may have - basil, parsley, oregano, etc., to taste
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/2 cup reserved pasta water (save some before draining the pasta)
- Cook pasta till al dente according to the directions on the package. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of pasta water. Set pasta aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, prep all the veggies and make the sauce.
- Heat a large heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat (I like using a wok for this). Brown the sliced sausage if using. Take the sausage out of the pan and set aside.
- Heat 1 tsp of oil OR 2-3 Tbsp of veggie broth/water in the same pan. Add broccoli florets and a pinch of salt. Cover with a lid and let the broccoli steam for 4-5 min, stirring occasionally, until it's bright green and crispy (doesn't have to be fully cooked at this point). Take the broccoli out and set aside.
- Heat 1 tsp of oil OR 2-3 Tbsp of veggie broth/water in the same pan. Add shallots and saute them until lightly browned. Then add carrots, mushrooms and peppers, close the lid and saute for 3-4 min, stirring once or twice, until the veggies soften. Add zucchini, peas and sundried tomatoes. Close the lid and saute for 2 min.
- Open the lid, push the vegetables to the side of the pan, clearing a small part of the bottom of the pan. Add minced garlic, pour 1 tsp of oil (this has to be oil, not veggie broth), and saute it for a minute or so, until the garlic starts turning golden and releases its aroma. Mix the garlic into the rest of the veggies. Mix in the broccoli, sausage (if using), olives and artichokes.
- Mix in the cooked pasta and the balsamic sauce. Give everything a good stir to coat the veggies and the pasta in the sauce. Heat the sauce through for a minute or two, and take the pan off the heat. Mix in any fresh herbs you have - basil and parsley work best. Enjoy!
- In a small bowl, stir together balsamic vinegar, mustard and maple syrup. Slowly pour in olive oil while whisking the mixture with a fork or a small whisk until the mixture becomes homogenous, about a minute. Stir in nutritional yeast. Once the pasta is cooked, pour in the 1/2 cup pasta water. Set the sauce aside until ready to add to the vegetables and pasta. Just before adding the sauce to the pot, stir it well one more time.
Question for you: What’s your favorite pasta recipe? Bonus points if it’s vegan, of course 🙂
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