Vegan Tomato Sauce Pasta with Mixed Vegetables
This is the 3rd recipe I am sharing from the Italian Cuisine and like the first two recipes, this again, uses no cheese. I hope you are not tired of the healthy and no cheese recipes that I have been sharing. Trust me, and I say this with complete honesty, the ones who have tasted this pasta, have been left surprised when told – it has no cheese. Kids have enjoyed this thoroughly too. So the recipe has been made and tested many a times and it has been a huge success.
Pasta for me has to be rightly cooked, loaded with vegetables, with a little sauce and a good quality olive oil. I like the occasional cheese but not when it comes to everyday meals.
At home, being just the two of us, deciding meals are tricky. We have leftovers to deal with, cravings and sometimes just a change from the routine.
Also, we don’t usually dine out as much as we used to, when we got married. Both being foodies, gained a lot of weight in the first year of our marriage with the husband treating me to Italian cuisine often (the cheese overload kind). A year later, when we got serious about our weight loss goals, I started making Italian food minus cheese or an occasional tblps of sprinkling of parmesan on the dinner table. I used fresh vegetables (a lot of it) and good quality olive oil, herbs, which did not make us miss the cheese.
I have nothing against cheese. In fact, I adore cheese, especially the gourmet cheese. I had asked Narayan to pick up some lovely cheese last month from France and I am yet to open those and taste. In fact Feta is something you would always find in my refrigerator for the salads and fruits too at times. The Cherry Cucumber Feta cheese salad is one such recipe on the blog that I make with any seasonal fruit and vegetable combination.
In the earlier blog post of Spaghetti Aglio Olio (Vegan and No Cheese Version), I did mention about the herb oil drizzle for bringing some flavor to the dish. Not copious amounts of course, but a tiny drizzle over piping hot pastas to ensure we don’t have that crazy cheese cravings.
The tomato sauce prepared for this recipe is something I don’t store and usually make it on the spot while the Pasta is boiling on the gas stove. Usually the tomatoes are blanched and used for the sauce but since I also believe in sometimes finishing up cooking to enjoy Netflix, I absolutely cheat my way into roughly chopping the tomatoes, blending them and straight way cooking them in a pan with garlic and onions. Turns out absolutely delicious! As you may observe from the step by step pics below, the quantity of the vegetables are quite large. I have used the Durum Wheat Fusilli Pasta which is usually my preference along with Penne as they really work best for sauce based pastas. However, it needs to be cooked Al dente else it would compromise their texture. Overcooked Pasta is a huge turn off for me. I watch the pasta simmering in the pot like a hawk to ensure it doesn’t overcook one bit.
One tip that I have learnt from noted Chef Jamie Oliver (I adore his culinary skills, the humble person that he is and the causes that he supports especially the no junk food concept for kids and encouraging to eat fresh meals with organic produce) while watching the series Jamie at Home on Television years ago, is that one must always reserve the pasta water and not drain the entire thing. The reserved pasta water, when added to the sauce being cooked, ensures silky texture. Another reason you don’t miss the cheese. Just half a cup makes helluva difference to the sauce texture. Do try it – I have been doing this for years.
I made a big batch of this pasta as we had some chores to run the next day, owing to recent home shift and I was too tired to cook all over again the next day. The leftover pasta made its way for lunch too with some salad on the side. Leftover pasta tasted so so good with all flavours deeply embedded.
Lets now look at the easy recipe, make a batch of this and serve it over the weekend to our loved ones. I bet no one would miss the cheese!
Recipe for Vegan Tomato Sauce Pasta with Mixed Vegetables (with step by step pics)
Ingredients for the Tomato Sauce
- 5 Nos. Large Ripe Red Tomatoes
- 2 medium size Onions finely chopped
- 5 cloves of Garlic finely chopped
- 2 tblsp Olive oil
- Herbs – ½ tsp each (Oregano, Rosemary, Basil)
- ½ tsp Red Chilli flakes
- 1 tsp Kashmiri Red Chilly powder
- ½ tsp Black Pepper powder
- 5 nos. Fresh basil leaves
- Salt as per taste
- Roughly chop and puree the tomatoes in a mixer grinder and keep aside.
- Now finely chop the garlic and the onions.
- Heat a kadhia, add the olive oil and then the garlic, once they turn golden, add the onions and saute them for a while.
- Cook the onions until they are translucent and turn pinkish in colour.
- Now add tomato puree and mix well.
- Add the mixed herbs, salt, chilli flakes, black pepper and red chilli powder.
- Cook the sauce on low heat until the raw smell of the tomatoes is no more and you get a slightly thick texture of the sauce.
- Switch off the flame, add the torn bits of fresh basil and prepare for the pasta and veggies.
- If you are making the pasta right away, follow the remaining steps below or if you are thinking about making this for the weekend, cool the mixture after switching off the flame, store it in the refrigerator in a clean glass jar with a lid. Stays good for 3-4 days.
Once the sauce is ready, let us prepare the Pasta and the vegetables.
For the Pasta (200 gms)
Heat a pot with water and add the fusilli in boiling and salted water and cook until al dente. Drain and keep aside.
Note – Read my tip on reserving some pasta water above.
For the Mixed Vegetables 500 gms in total
- Cube the vegetables of your choice – I have used vegetables like slice mushrooms, bell peppers – yellow and red, corn, Broccoli, cherry tomatoes.
- Wash them under running water, drain and keep aside.
- Heat a pan, add a tsp of olive oil and saute the vegetables.
- Add a pinch of salt, cook them over low flame for couple of minutes before adding them to the tomato sauce mixture and further cooking them for few more minutes.
- Check for the salt and spice levels at this stage as mixing of salt after adding of pasta is usually tricky.
- Now add the cooked pasta, give it a good mix and allow the sauce to coat the pasta. Add fresh torn basil leaves and let it cook for few more minutes before switching off the flame.
- Before serving, drizzle a tblsp of olive oil, toss the pasta and serve.
Recipe Notes –
- It is very important to cook the pasta al dente for all the sauce based recipes as cooking takes place after adding them to sauce and overcooked pasta breaks and loses its texture easily thereby making it squishy and not pleasing to the eye.
- Also rinse it once quickly in cold water to stop the cooking, if your sauce and vegetables are going to take some time to cook etc.
- If you are planning to store the cooked pasta and then make the final dish later, drizzle few tsps of olive oil, toss it well and then keep aside or in the refrigerator. I however, don’t recommend this. Try to cook everything at the same time and add the drained pasta immediately to the sauce and veggie mixture.
- Add salt at several stages while making pasta. I ensure I add good amount of salt while cooking the pasta itself so that you don’t get a bland taste. Second stage is during the sauce and third is when you sautéing the vegetables – add some salt and fourth stage is when all the three are about to be mixed i.e. pasta, sauce and veggies. This is particularly important when you are not adding any cheese.
- Try and scout for fresh herbs as they make the most amazing sauces. Also, add them once they are off the fire, mix well and keep aside, the flavours would just soak in.
- If you cannot find fresh herbs, use dried herbs but ensure they are stored in a glass jar with a tight lid to avoid aroma and flavor loss.
- Don’t chop your herbs, always tear them and add them.
- Use a good quality olive oil for all Italian recipes.
- You can grate fresh parmesan cheese on top and serve it piping hot.