We’ve all been there: after a long, busy day making an elaborate, time-consuming meal sometimes is the last thing we want to do. This is when a dish like today’s vegan bruschetta pasta comes in very handy. Not only is it easy to make, it’s also light and filling, and can be easily prepared with no oil!
To say that this recipe for bruschetta pasta is quick to make is an understatement. I mean, cooking the sauce takes less time than boiling the spaghetti! Actually, even ‘cooking’ is too loud of a word here: diced tomatoes just get warmed up in the pan and then are taken off the heat right away.
The inspiration for this dish came to me one day when I was trying to recreate Capellini Pomodoro from Olive Garden at home – it used to be one of my favorite dishes there, but I’m not sure if they still have it, plus we don’t go out to eat very often. That day also happened to be the day before my third half marathon in early 2012 (wow, I’m surprised that I remember these details!), so I wanted to have an easy-to-make dish of pasta that would also digest quickly and not give me any trouble on the race morning. Did it work? Like a dream: the pasta was delicious, my stomach was very happy at night and in the morning, and I even set a PR for the half marathon (1:47:56). I’ve beaten that time since then with a current PR of 1:45:34, but I’m pretty sure I also had some sort of pasta the night before that 🙂
I called this dish ‘bruschetta pasta’ because the sauce can be used as a classic Italian bruschetta appetizer when served on toasted bread. if you’re having a dinner party and are running low on what else you can serve to your guests, you can quickly toss this bruschetta together and serve it with crackers or small pieces of toast.
If you’re thinking that just pasta and tomatoes in this recipe won’t provide you with enough protein, you need not worry: whole-grain pasta tends to have plenty of protein, plus you can experiment with other types of pasta of your choice. (See my post on the optimal amounts of protein we need.) Still not enough? Top bruschetta pasta with some cannellini beans after you ladle it into a bowl (avoid mixing the beans with the sauce while it’s still in the pan – it all might just turn into an unsightly mush).
An extremely easy dish like this vegan bruschetta pasta can be a lifesaver on days when you're pressed for time to make dinner. The trick is to have all of the ingredients ready before you start heating up the pan, and work quickly from there.
- 1 large ripe tomato, diced into 1/2-inch dice - see note *
- 1 t tomato paste (optional, use if the tomato is not at the peak of its ripeness)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 - 1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves, chopped into thin strips
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp olive oil OR olive oil cooking spray, as needed - see note **
- salt, pepper to taste
- 2 servings of cooked pasta, preferably whole-grain spaghetti or angel hair
- Set out all of the ingredients to have them ready to go: chop the tomatoes and basil, mince the garlic, line up olive oil, balsamic, tomato paste, salt and pepper.
- Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente following directions on the box.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat up a medium-size pan on the stovetop. Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil OR spray the pan with cooking spray. Once the pan is hot, quickly add diced tomatoes, tomato paste (if using), garlic and balsamic vinegar. Toss them immediately for about 20-30 seconds, or just until the tomatoes are heated through. Take the pan off the stove right away, mix in chopped basil leaves, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Stir the sauce into the cooked drained pasta. Sprinkle with some vegan Parmezan or nutritional yeast if you'd like. Enjoy!
*If fresh tomatoes are not in season, you can use canned diced tomatoes: just drain them and follow the recipe. i find that this dish works better with fresh tomatoes, but canned are fine too. **Using a cooking spray lets you cut down on the amount of oil in this dish, which can be important for people on low-oil plant-based diets. Not using oil at all? 1-2 Tbsp of vegetable broth or water will do the job too, but the resulting sauce may be mushier.
Question: Do you have any vegan recipes that are quick to make on a busy night?