Mushroom & Pea Penne w/Chickpea Alfredo

So we’re going to round out bean week–mostly–with this final meal that actually inspired the theme this week. I’ve been looking for ways to use more beans (and less tofu) in more creative ways. You can only eat so many different bean stew type dishes before you’re ready to pull your hair out and wish for vegan fast food. Or even vegan junk food.

I love hummus. No, we love hummus so I figured if we take chickpeas and thin them out into a sauce, why not give it a go…right?

I looked forward to making this dish all week and when the day rolled around and it was time to decide, I chose to roast a full head of garlic to go into the alfredo sauce, because if you’re going to do this you might as well go all the way, no?

It might seem complicated but this dish was very easy to make. The garlic needs to roast for about 30-40 minutes so I just tossed in the portabello caps as well so I wouldn’t have to do it on top of the stove.

Next, I sauteed Japanese mushrooms with two medium shallots, a handful of yellow bell pepper and about half a cup of frozen green peas. When everything is close to done, toss in the already roasted portabello mushrooms, chopped once they’ve cooled.

Now it’s time for the alfredo sauce. Drain and rinse a can of chickpeas (or garbanzo beans depending on where you’re located in the world) and toss them in a food processor along with the peeled roasted garlic. Pulse and then blend until no chunks remain. You might find the texture a bit grainy but this can be easily fixed with water or plant based milk. I kept the grainy texture but not until the chickpeas reached the perfect consistency.

Remove the vegetables from the pot and dump the sauce in, over low heat. Slowly add milk. I used roasted unsweetened almond milk to minimize the flavor interference. Add milk or water as needed to thin out the sauce and then start to season. I used salt, pepper, smoky paprika and nutritional yeast and that seemed to do the trick. Keep tasting as you go and add whatever seasoning you wish.

Just in case you were wondering, the bowl with the drops of Sriracha on it belong to me. 😀

When the sauce is how you want it, add the mushrooms and vegetables to the sauce and stir, adding some vegan Parmesan cheese if desired. If not, drop the cooked pasta into the sauce and toss until coated. Then serve with any garnishments that will enhance the flavor or appearance of your dish.

This dish was easy and super delicious. I hadn’t had anything like this, it was kind of a stoner thought, but it turned out wonderful. Let me know if you decide to try it for yourself!

Creamy Vegan Romesco & Whole Wheat Pasta

For as long as I’ve been old enough to worry about things like weight and fitness and beauty and health, there has always been one constant diet “truism” that I loathe. No or low carb.

I admit it, I am a carb-a-holic. Despite that I managed to lose 25kg in 2018 which means that I have no plans to give up my love of healthy, complex carbohydrates anytime soon. And that brings me to the craving I had recently.

Romesco.

For the uninitiated, Romesco sauce is a delicious, hearty and flavorful sauce that originated in Catalonia, but can be found in most Italian restaurants these days to go alongside your favorite pasta dish. Rather than using it as a dip, I turned into a pasta sauce and it was

FAN-TAS-TIC!!!

The key to a good Romesco sauce, in my opinion, is getting a good roast on pretty much everything. I toasted the blanched almonds, roasted the red bell peppers and a whole head of garlic, and for a little extra flavor I added a couple sun-dried tomatoes. Once everything has been roasted and cooled, peel what you can from the peppers and add everything to a food processor. Here is the fun part where you can decide how chunky or smooth you want your sauce to be. Of course for the pasta I wanted it thick and creamy-ish but I didn’t want to add any oil to it, which is also a key ingredient by the way. I relied on the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes which might have totaled 1.5 teaspoons maximum.

To thicken the cream and give it enough oomph for the pasta, I added Take It Veggie brand of vegan cooking cream, about 1/2 cup which was all it needed for about 350 grams of pasta.

vegan romesco

The rest of the sauce was pretty easy, just saute a yellow onion and I added this new dried soy granules, which have the same effect as any kind of tofu crumbles but I was curious how this worked (btw, great!) so I wanted to give it a try. The onions & tofu completed the sauce and all that was left…cook the pasta.

The pasta was the easy part. Just grab a bag of whole wheat anything–I used fusili because I wanted the Romesco to get stuck in all the nooks & crannies of the pasta, so the flavor was EVERYWHERE–and cook it according to the instructions.

This is another simple vegan meal for the lazy vegan in all of us, but the great part is that this is where serving size can really help if you have weight loss goals. This meal is satisfying, calorie & fat friendly and easy to make because the oven does most of the hard work.

Plus if you only eat one serving–moderation and all that–you have plenty of room for a cocktail or dessert!

No surprise which one I chose! Try this recipe and let me know how it turns out and as always, photos are welcome!