Silky Red Pepper Pasta with Zucchini and Basil Ribbons; Creamy Garlic Carrot Salad

Roasted red pepper pasta 1

I often now find myself in this weird balancing act of trying to make sure we get enough high-quality protein (due to the mostly vegan diet – me 100%, everyone else ~75%) and trying to get enough vegetables into GameBoy. You’d think this would be easy on a vegan diet. Though he’s commented how much he likes the way we’re eating, that doesn’t mean he magically wants to eat all his vegetables. It’s a quandary.

Enter my new favorite thing, the vegetable spiralizer. I’ve noticed in the past that I can get GameBoy to down zucchini if it’s not mushy, so I thought I’d spiralize some zucchini noodles and mix them (raw) with regular pasta as camouflage. Combined with a super creamy roasted red pepper sauce, amped up with the protein from soft silken tofu, and ribbons of fresh basil, GameBoy didn’t even notice the zucchini.

You’ll notice that this is about the only recipe on this blog that includes bell peppers… I don’t like ’em. Freshly roasted red bell peppers are the lone exception. I can’t stomach the  jarred version, but if I take the time to roast them myself, it’s worth it. Since I don’t have a gas stove at the moment, I can’t scorch the skins to peel them off, but a good alternative is to bake them at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes, then flip them and bake for another 20-25 minutes, until they are charred and soft. I peel the skins off while they’re still warm… almost too hot to touch.

As long as I had the spiralizer out, I went ahead and noodle-ized some rainbow carrots. I chose a creamy, zesty tahini-garlic sauce, based on a recipe from Tales of a Kitchen. I expected Cheer Girl to like it a lot, since she loves hummus – but GameBoy is hit-or-miss with tahini. Happily, he chowed down. It was the first thing gone from his plate. Mr. Man and I loved the lemony sesame-ness of the dressing against the natural sweetness of the carrots. Sorry the color is off on this photo, I don’t know what was up with my lighting tonight… you can’t really get the full effect of the rainbow carrots.

Carrot salad

I was really pleased with how the roasted red pepper sauce turned out – it was nice to have a protein-filled entrée without having to include edamame, seitan, tempeh or chunks of tofu. It was tough not to go back for seconds on this one. It’s shown here with a garnish of toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of my cashew creme fraiche, but I served Mr. Man and the kids some freshly shredded Parmesan on theirs.

Roasted red pepper pasta 2

Nom nom nom.

Silky Roasted Red Pepper Pasta with Zucchini and Basil Ribbons (adapted from Thug Kitchen)

  • 12 oz soft silken tofu
  • 2 roasted red bell peppers, chopped
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp red wine
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes, depending on how hot you like it
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 lb spaghetti, linguine or fettucine
  • 1 large zucchini, spiralized into noodles or julienned into matchsticks
  • 1 cup basil, sliced into thin strips

First, make the sauce. Throw all the sauce ingredients (from tofu up to red pepper flakes) into a high-speed blender and run on high until the sauce is smooth. You can add up to 1/4 cup vegetable broth to get the consistency you want; taste for seasonings and add salt/pepper/garlic powder/onion powder or whatever else grabs you.

Now cook the pasta according to package directions. While that’s cooking, spiralize or julienne your zucchini; you’re aiming for strips that are approximately the same size as your noodles so they’ll blend really well together in the final dish.

Just before your pasta is done, start a low heat under the sauce you made; you want it to warm, but not simmer. If you accidentally bring it to a simmer and it thickens, you can thin it back out with either some pasta cooking water or more vegetable broth. If you do, just make sure you taste/adjust the seasonings again.

When the pasta is done, drain and immediately put in a large bowl (or back in the warm pot). Add the zucchini ribbons to the hot pasta and then add the warmed-up sauce; toss it all together. The heat from the pasta and sauce should soften up the zucchini  a little without making it mushy. Fold in the basil and taste. Do a final adjustment of seasonings (vinegar, salt, red pepper flakes, etc). Top with a basil leaf and serve right away.

Creamy Garlicky Carrot Salad (serves 4 as a side; adapted from Tales of a Kitchen)

  • 4-5 carrots, made into noodles (use a spiralizer, a box grater or a julienne peeler; whatever you prefer)
  • 1 tbsp tahini (I used a heaping tbsp and it was a little too much)
  • 1 tbsp walnut or olive oil (the higher quality, the better this will taste)
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp finely minced or grated ginger
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely minced or grated (I used an additional tsp of roasted garlic powder, because we really, really love garlic)
  • Chopped flat leaf parsley, toasted pine nuts, sesame seeds, or anything else that sounds good as a garnish/topping

Mix all the sauce ingredients (from tahini to garlic) until well combined and smooth. Pour sauce over carrot noodles and gently mix them until all the carrot is lightly coated. Top with parsley, pine nuts, sesame seeds, etc and serve.  Will keep well in the fridge for several hours/overnight.

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