Has anyone experienced their first snowfall of the season yet? I've heard of snow sightings from friends further north in Ontario the past couple of days, so I hope it's not making its way down to southern Ontario - I'm not quite ready for that yet!
There's nothing like a hearty dinner to warm you up on cold days like this though, which is why I'm sharing this pasta recipe today!
When I eat a bowl of pasta, I like it to have lots of sauce and lots of "extras" in it so that no bite is just plain pasta, and this pasta was just that. I've been wanting to try making a roasted red pepper sauce for quite a while now, and I finally got around to it a couple of weeks ago when I had a lonely red pepper in the fridge that needed to be eaten before it went bad.
I used Colourful Palate's recipe for vegan mac & cheese as a guide for the sauce, but turned it into a more smoky and spicy dish by adding some spices to the sauce, roasted broccoli, and Mexican veggie sausage (one of three flavours from Field Roast and the only brand of veggie sausage I've found that I really like!).
The sauce was an interesting change from the tomato-based pasta sauces that I'm used to. It had a bit of a chunky texture from the cashews and sunflower seeds, a nice smoky flavour and a hint of cheesiness from the nutritional yeast.
This can be a quick and easy dinner if you make the pasta sauce ahead of time like I did, and to save even more time, you could just cook some noodles and toss it with the sauce for a simple meal. If you like veggies in your pasta like I do though, the roasted broccoli was the perfect addition.
The spicy veggie sausage complemented the flavours in the sauce really well too, while also making it more of a hearty and filling dish - just what I crave to warm my belly on a chilly night!
Smoky Red Pepper, Broccoli & Veggie Sausage Pasta
Sauce adapted from Colourful Palate
Red Pepper Sauce
1 red pepper
2 tbsp raw cashews
2 tbsp raw sunflower seeds
3 tbsp nutritional yeast (or more if desired)
1 tsp tamari
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne
Turn oven on to broil and rub the outside of the red pepper with a bit of oil. When oven is ready, place the whole pepper on a baking sheet and broil for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally, until it starts to blacken. Remove pepper from oven and place in a bowl of water to help loosen the skin. Peel off as much of the outside layer of skin as you can and discard. Roughly chop the pepper into pieces and remove the seeds.
Place the cashews and sunflower seeds in a food processor and process until finely ground. Add the red pepper pieces and the remaining ingredients and puree until as smooth as possible (it may still be a bit chunky from the nuts). Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.
Makes about ¾ cup sauce (enough for about 2 servings of pasta).
Half a head of broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1-2 tsp olive oil
2 servings of dry penne pasta (I just eyeballed the amount I wanted)
1 Field Roast Mexican Chipotle veggie sausage (optional)
red pepper sauce (recipe above)
Preheat the oven to 400°F and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Toss the broccoli pieces in a bit of olive oil and spread out on a baking sheet. Roast in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until it starts to brown.
Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl.
Heat a small skillet over medium heat and spray the pan with cooking spray. Cook the veggie sausage for about 5 minutes total, turning often, just until it is heated through and browned on all sides. Chop into pieces.
Add the broccoli to the pasta and pour the sauce over top. Toss well to mix. Gently mix in the sausage pieces, or divide the pasta into bowls first and then top with the sausage.
Makes 2 servings.