An easy and healthy pasta is makes for a wonderful week-night dinner, when you want something that will please everyone. You can really load up on the veggies to make it extra healthy. Even the sauce is heavy on the veggies and packed with flavor. This simple dish can be customized with whatever produce is in season- here it's cauliflower, but it would be equally delicious with butternut squash, mushrooms, or even Brussels sprouts. Quick and easy pasta dishes are all about the sauce! This one is made from fire roasted red bell peppers and creamy macadamias, but you can use cashews or even pecans or pine nuts. Each one will give the sauce a slightly unique flavor.
Penne with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto [Vegan]
For the Sauce:
- 8-ounces roasted red pepper (about 2 whole red bell peppers, roasted and peeled)
- 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup macadamia nuts or cashews, soaked 2 hours and rinsed
- 4 cloves garlic, whole
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon chipotle flakes
- 1-2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, ground
For the Pasta:
- 4 cups cauliflower florets, cut in bite sized pieces
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup basil, chopped fine
- 1 8-ounce package of gluten free penne
- In a food processor, puree all the ingredients together until smooth. Set aside until ready to use.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Cook pasta in boiling water until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, about 11 minutes. Drain.
- Heat oil in a pan and add the cauliflower. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat until the cauliflower is browned on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and finish cooking over low until tender for about 5 more minutes.
- Add the sauce and cherry tomatoes and heat until sauce is hot. Stir in the cooked pasta and season with fresh basil, and sea salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove from the heat and divide equally among 2-4 plates.
This makes 16 ounces sauce. Serves 2-4.