I’ve had a fairly easy time giving up a lot of my favorite dairy-containing foods over the last year (yogurt, ice cream, cheese), but pasta and pizza have been tough ones for me. Pizza, I’ve recently discovered, works great cheese-less with a healthy shake of vegan parmesan. But pasta has mainly stumped me…until now.
One of the meals I’ve made for John and myself every week for the last several years is a lightened up Pesto Alfredo with some form of steamed veggie. I love the richness and creamy texture it offers. While I recognize there is a place for cashew-based sauces, I wanted something so undetectably creamy that it had to be nut free.
So I started with simple ingredients that I use in my original recipe, but swapped the regular milk for almond milk. As for the cheese? I supplemented other flavor in the form of shallot, garlic and roasted tomatoes. And when serving, I shake on a healthy amount vegan parm. The result? Pasta that sends me straight to creamy pasta heaven.
This is a 30-minute meal that’s virtually fool-proof. While you get your sauce going by sauteeing garlic and shallot in a little olive oil, roast your grape tomatoes. When you roast tomatoes in a little olive oil and sea salt, it enhances their natural flavor and gives them an almost smoky, fire-roasted taste, which pairs perfectly with the creamy garlic sauce.
Once your sauce is thickened you can either blend it for undetectable creaminess or leave it with a bit of texture. Then, all that’s left to do is toss in the tomatoes and garnish with fresh herbs, black pepper or a little parm. This dish is so simple yet so flavorful! It’s:
I served ours with a little steamed broccoli and, of course, some white wine. What’s white pasta without white wine? This really is the perfect quick meal for weeknights that will please even picky eaters. Don’t even mention there’s no butter or cream and I’ll bet no one will notice. Cheers!
- 3 cups (450 g) grape tomatoes, halved
- 10 ounces (283 g) whole wheat pasta (such as penne, linguini or fettuccine | Use less if you want a higher sauce:pasta ratio)
- Olive oil
- 2 medium shallots, diced (~1/4 cup or 40 g)
- 8 large cloves garlic, minced/grated (1/4 cup or 24 g)
- Sea salt and black pepper
- 3-4 Tbsp (25-33 g) unbleached all purpose flour (or another thickener of choice)*
- 2 1/2 cups (600 ml) unsweetened plain Almond Breeze (sub up to 1 cup with veggie stock, if preferred)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C) and toss tomatoes in a bit of olive oil and sea salt. Place cut side up on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes while you prepare the rest of the dish. Then set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. When done, drain, cover and set aside.
- In the meantime, prepare the sauce. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, add 1 Tbsp (15 ml) olive oil and the garlic and shallot. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper and stir frequently, cooking for 3-4 minutes until softened and fragrant.
- Stir in 3-4 Tbsp flour (or other thickener of choice – see notes) and mix with a whisk. Once combined, slowly whisk in the almond milk a little at a time so clumps don’t form. Add another healthy pinch of salt and black pepper, bring to a simmer and continue cooking for another 4-5 minutes to thicken. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. (Optional: You can also add a few shakes of vegan parmesan for extra flavor at this time if you wish.)
- If you want an ultra creamy sauce, transfer sauce to a blender (or use an immersion blender) to blend the sauce until creamy and smooth. Place back in pan and reduce heat to a low simmer until desired thickness is reached.
- Once the sauce is to your desired thickness, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Then add pasta and roasted tomatoes and stir.
- Serve immediately and garnish with extra black pepper, fresh basil and/or vegan parmesan cheese.
* To keep this recipe gluten free, sub the flour for cornstarch or another thickener. Add 1-2 Tbsp during the blending process to make sure it’s completely blended. Then add back to the pan to thicken for 5-7 minutes. Alternatively, make a slurry with the cornstarch and a few Tbsp of the sauce in a small bowl and then whisk it directly into the pan during the simmering process. Repeat in 1/2 Tbsp amounts until desired consistency is reached.
*Nutrition information reflects 1 of 4 servings.