Grandma's Vegan Italian Pasta Dinner
Even if you’re not Italian, this dish will make you feel like you are.
Every Italian restaurant has a classic pasta dish that the owner probably got from his/her grandmother who was from the motherland.
Italians have such a way with flavors…and carbs, don’t they?
All around, they make most people happy because their comfort food status it out of this world.
Italian food isn’t really ideal for people trying to watch what they eat, but whenever you do eat it, it will verrrrry likely make you feel full, satisfied and ready for a nap when you’re done eating. The best kind of comfort.
While this dish came out as an Italian-style meal, not all of its ingredients could be considered Italian.
We could’ve used Italian vegan sausages, but we tried some new ones that were labelled “Braai style” (a South African BBQ meal).
The outcome was phenomenal, so our amalgamation of the South African & Italian ways turned out to be a cross-cultural delight!
If I had an Italian grandma, I’m not so sure she’d be pleased with that information, but once she tasted it, I think she would understand.
Like any good Italian recipe starts, you gotta dice up onions and garlic first.
Once you get ‘em cooking, the house smells that amazing smell that I wish I could capture it in a candle.
You know the one, right?
These are the South African sausages we gave a whirl.
The instructions say to grill or microwave them, but we decided to pop them in the oven on the “grill” setting.
Not gonna lie, these bad boys came out pretty dry, but as soon as they dipped their toes into the sauce, they soaked up the juices right away and plumped up nicely.
If you make this dish, you’re welcome to use only red onions or only white onions.
We love both, so we used one of each.
We were also making extra for our lunches the day after, so if you’re only cooking for two, I’d use just one onion of either color.
The classic Italian combo: tomato, basil, pasta.
You can run miles with those ingredients.
The cashew cream might shock some Italian grandmas, but hey, it’s 2019 and everyone’s going vegan, Grandma!
We found a brand of gluten free pasta we really like, so if you are inclined to leave out the gluten, too, grab your favorite pasta and toss it in.
If you don’t mind gluten, then stick with “normal” pasta for this one.
We chose shells, but everyone has their own favorite shape, so pick what’s going to make your heart and taste buds most happy.
This was our first time using store-bought vegan cashew cream and we were SO happy with the results.
We usually do the classic soaking of cashews in a bowl and blending, but we thought we’d give this grocery store option a try.
And we were satisfied customers!
Look at those dry dogs!
I wouldn’t necessarily slap this sausage in a hot dog bun — god, think about the dry mouth! Yuck!
But, adding them to a juicy sauce really brought out the best flavors of these sausies and tied the whole meal together.
Here goes the amazing cooking smell.
You know your Italian grandam (real or imaginary) does this just right.
She can probably lure people in from miles away with this alluring scent of fresh cooking.
This is where it all started coming together.
We tossed in the crushed tomatoes, herbs, spices, and oven-grilled sausages and watched the sauce come to life.
Then, we added the cashew cream and started the kitchen dance party.
We knew this was about to be an absolute delight.
Once we poured in the cashew cream, the sauce took on a “penne a la vodka” look, which is one of my favorite Italian dishes (obviously the vegan version).
We stirred it around watching the colors marble and meld together.
Then, we added the cooked pasta to combine it all.
Cue drool session.
Any good Italian dish is topped with fresh basil. Everyone knows that!
At least that’s what I learned from the Italian community I grew up around.
I was without Italian grandma, but not without Italian influences.
New York is chock-full of Italians, so authentic meals weren’t hard to come by.
There it is!
Honestly, this meal was pretty easy and quick to cook.
So, instead of just marinara sauce with plain pasta, we kicked it up a few notches and channelled our fake Italian grandma to make this one a mid-week delight.
Hope you love it as much as we did!
Grandma’s Italian Vegan Pasta Dinner
1 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions (white is a-okay, too)
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp Italian herbs (your choice of: dried basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme)
1 tsp chili flakes
2 tbsp fresh basil (aka 2-3 sprigs)
2 diced red peppers
2 cans of crushed Italian tomatoes
8 vegan sausages
2 tbsp tomato puree
245 ml cashew cream
500 g pasta (gluten free optional)
Pre-heat oven to approximately 180°C/350°F on the grill option (or use a grill if you’ve got it!).
Place a pot of water on the stove to boil.
Meanwhile, dice up onions, garlic, and red peppers as you’re waiting for everything to heat up.
Put sausages in the oven to cook for approximately 20 minutes.
Once the water is boiled on the stove, put the pasta in to cook.
As the sausages and pasta are cooking, heat up olive oil in a pan on med-high on the stove.
Saute onions and garlic for 5 minutes, then add peppers, herbs, and chili flakes to cook for another 3-5 minutes.
Add crushed tomatoes and tomato paste to the pan and stir.
Remove sausages from oven, chop into slices, and add to the sauce (Note: if sausages are really dry, they may suck up some of the sauce, so you may need to add a touch of water).
Stir through cashew cream and freshly chopped basil (leave some on the side for garnish).
Strain cooked pasta then also add to sauce.
Mix well, remove from heat, and serve while hot.