Spaghetti is a traditional food many of us grew up eating. Like lasagna and other pasta dishes, spaghetti is one of the ultimate (yet wonderfully simple) foods that everyone enjoys. Maybe your old favorite version had meatballs or homemade fresh Parmesan. Or maybe, if you’re like some of us, you actually enjoyed Presto and Parmesan cheese out of the shaker container that were staples on spaghetti night.
Well, when you go meatless or even completely vegan, you learn to make spaghetti in all kinds of new ways. The funny thing is, though you might assume you’re restricted without the chunky meatballs or dairy cheeses, the possibilities actually open up like flood gates because you don’t just grab the same old ingredients you’re used to. In fact, not only do fresh, plant-based foods taste better and satisfy you longer, but they’re also healthier for you too.
Instead of just plain boxed noodles, conventional brands of pasta sauce and the Parmesan cheese options, let’s go with some new flavor ideas that are just as delicious and satisfying. Grab a fork, this is gonna be good!
1. ‘Meaty’ Mighty Mushroom Sauce
Mushrooms are like magic when you’re trying to replicate meat in a recipe. Not only are they 100 percent plant-based, but they’re also really good for you (and they are used in most spaghetti pasta dishes anyway). Make a mushroom-packed ‘meaty’ sauce by using either your favorite (preferably organic) tomato sauce brand or a homemade marinara sauce. Add a whole pint of sliced mushrooms with 1/4 a whole onion (chopped), a clove of minced garlic, and warm it all on the stove on medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. You can add additional herbs like fresh oregano or basil (just a pinch!) as well if you like. Top this sauce on brown rice pasta noodles, whole wheat noodles, sprouted grain noodles, or protein-rich quinoa noodles. If you have a spiralizer, then you can easily make your own veggie-based noodle options like zucchini or sweet potato noodles at home (or you can make them without a spiralizer too). And, of course, you can always just use the easiest method of all, spaghetti squash noodles, to make low-calorie noodles all without the need for an appliance.
2. Bring on the Bolognese Sauce
Bolognese is a veggie-packed sauce that just screams flavor! Featuring red peppers, onions, garlic – the works – Bolognese sauce is one to try to turn plain old spaghetti into something special. You can use traditional spaghetti noodles, brown rice spaghetti or another type of gluten-free spaghetti. Try Brown Rice Noodles and Bolognese Sauce or Pasta with Vegan Bolognese Sauce as two great first-time recipes. You can also add artichoke hearts (which are amazing in the sauce), olives, and any other veggie you’d like as well. This takes plain old tomato sauce to a whole, new filling level!
3. Sneak Sweet Root Veggies In
Carrots, sweet potato cubes or even (shock!) pumpkin puree, can all add a really creamy, slightly sweet flavor to your sauce that also adds fiber and vitamins A and C. Root vegetables are some of the healthiest options you can choose when it comes to complex carbohydrates. Consider adding them to your next pasta sauce easily by replacing the meat and cheese with sliced carrots, sweet potato cubes (roasted work great here), pumpkin or butternut squash puree, and other non-root veggies too if you like.
4. Keep the Cheezy Flavor, Hold the Dairy Cheese!
Grab some nutritional yeast or make a vegan Parmesan and top your pasta the healthy way, with an incredibly cheezy flavor without a bit of animal ingredients. Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast so it will not disrupt your system if you have candida overgrowth or other yeast intolerance issues. It’s also high in B vitamins, specifically Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12. It’s even a complete source of protein, making it a great way to add a little bit of protein to your spaghetti. Just a teaspoon is enough to add lots of flavor and tons of nutrition in a small dose. You can also try dairy-free nut cheese like almond or Brazil nut-based Parmesan cheese that are made with nutritional yeast for more nutrients, fiber, and protein. Try these 10 Vegan Cheeses That Will Knock Your Socks Off for more ideas!
5. Add Some Spicy Ethnic Flair
If you’re a hot sauce fan, well, then why not add some to your spaghetti sauce? You can also add other global flavors such as red chili flakes, garam masala (a delicious Indian favorite), a pinch of cumin or curry, chili powder, and even some herbs like sage, thyme and marjoram. These will really kick things up a notch without much effort, and you’d be surprised at all the awesome combinations you can come up with. Also, try cooking your sauces in a coconut milk base for a heavier, creamier flavor without cheese. These are all ways to add ethnic flair to spaghetti that are just subtle enough to enhance the taste, without ruining the classic flavor of the traditional recipe(s) you love. Try this yummy pizza-flavored dish that features chili powder for a spicy, punched up plate of pasta. It’s also made with zucchini noodles instead of traditional wheat-based spaghetti noodles.
Remember that making vegan spaghetti is about adding, not restricting. What are you going to add to your next plate of spaghetti?
Lead Image Source: Roasted Red Pepper Zucchini Pasta