I’m hard pressed to think of a meal that sounds more appealing than one-pot pasta. I mean: little clean up, thirty minutes, and it’s freaking PASTA! I don’t know about you guys, but on a normal night – when I’m off recipe duty – I’m probably going to make rice or pasta for dinner. People love to hate on grains, but as a broke LA kid pursuing a freelance career, I can’t argue with a filling meal that stretches every cent. So if you find yourself in the same boat, grab that box of pasta with pride and let’s make some fuego!
If the idea of one-pot pasta is new to you then you’re not alone. While recently doing some internet digging to find recipe inspiration, I came across a recipe by Food 52, in which penne is cooked entirely in the sauce that it’s served in. How have I been cooking my whole life and never thought of this?! Needless to say: inspiration = ACHIEVED. In fact, this recipe is essentially a vegan-take on their original One-Pot Penne with Sausage, Pumpkin, and Fennel recipe, just with a few alternations to make the meal easier, cheaper, and well, vegan-er.
It’s important to note that this meal wouldn’t be possible without recent vegan innovations. Heck, if you just stripped the word “vegan” from the ingredients, this would sound like a normal, meat & cheese packed pasta. Thankfully, however, we no longer live in a world where being vegan means eating salads and falafel every day… unless you live in Nebraska, in which case I’m so sorry. That being said, let’s take a look at some modern products that make this meal shine (and no, we don’t get paid to recommend these!):
- Vegan Butter – At this point in time, vegan butter is a fairly common ingredient. In fact, I often see it in place of real butter in many of my meat-eating friends’ fridges…. not that I’m going through their fridges for personal pleasure or anything. While there’s quite a few vegan butters on the market, we’re partial to Melt because it’s rich, creamy, and dense like real butter, whereas many other brands are more akin to margarine.
- Not-Beef Bouillon Cubes – I know that bouillon cubes are considered heresy in the culinary world, but why is that? They pack umami, salt, and depth into one little, cheap block of goodness, which is especially important in vegan cuisine as I can’t rely on bone broth to add depth to a soup or lend a sauce some extra umph. For this reason, we use “Not-Beef Bouillon Cubes” in this recipe, which can be found at Whole Foods, Sprouts, and online.
- Vegan Parmesan – This is a true blessing from the vegan food engineers, and there’s two brands that do it well (that I know of): Follow Your Heart and VioLife. Our personal favorite is VioLife, who sells their parmesan in a hard block, which can be grated and shredded JUST like real parmesan; this stuff is the real deal. If you can’t find VioLife, Follow Your Heart’s shredded parmesan also tastes and melts beautifully.
- Vegan Hot Italian Sausage – Vegan sausage isn’t that new of a concept, but there’s a new link on the scene who’s changing the game: Beyond Sausages by Beyond Meat. The same company that released the realistic-ish Beyond Burger a couple years ago unleashed the meatiest, juiciest, and most realistic vegan sausage to date in 2018. Unlike seitan sausages, Beyond Sausages are made by stuffing plant-based casings with seasoned pea-protein “ground meat,” which creates the same snappy exterior and juicy interior of real sausages. These sausages don’t have the same distinct flavor that the Beyond Burgers have, making them more versatile than their hamburger counterparts. Unfortunately, these sausages aren’t wide-spread yet, but if you’re lucky enough to live on the West Coast or another popping’ vegan city, they’re worth their high-price point ($9 for four), because they can be grilled, sliced, and taken out of their casings just like regular sausages. If you can’t find them, they can be replaced with breakfast sausage crumbles by Lightlife or slices of Italian seitan sausages, like Tofurky or Field Roast.
Wooh! That was a lot of information to take in, but this recipe itself is simple, quick, and creates a comforting meal for four. This meaty, deep, and flavorful pasta will indulge your senses and leave your kitchen sink on the light side tonight.
“I really needed to cut back, so I started eating pasta two times a day instead of three.”
Vegan One-Pot Penne with Savory Butternut Squash Sauce, Zucchini, and Zucchini
Al-dente pasta in a deep and earthy butternut squash sauce, laced with red pepper, sage, and sharp Parmesan cheese, and packed with Italian sausage crumbles and zucchini pieces.
- 8 oz dried penne pasta
- 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
- 1 small zucchini, cut into half rounds about 1/4 inch thick
- 4 medium cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 Hot Italian sausages, casing removed & crumbled
- 3 c low-sodium vegetable broth + 1 Not-Beef Bouillon Cube*
- 1/2 c + 2 tbsps butternut squash or pumpkin puree*
- 1/2 c parmesan, shredded
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt + more
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1/4 tsp rubbed sage
- 1 tbsp butter or olive oil
- Heat a dutch oven or large high-walled sauté pan over medium heat. Once hot, add in butter, let it melt, then toss in carrots and a small pinch of salt. Cook until carrots start to turn translucent on the edges; about 2 minutes.
- Toss in garlic, sausage, red pepper, and sage and cook until sausage & garlic are lightly browned around the edges; about 5 minutes.
- Add in vegetable broth + bouillon mixture and scrape the bottom of the pot to release any stuck on pieces of goodness. Stir in pasta & 1/2 tsp salt, cover with a lid, and cook for 8 minutes.
- Stir in zucchini, butternut squash puree, and lemon juice, cover, and cook for another 4 minutes. After that, taste the pasta for seasoning and doneness. If needed, cook for a few more minutes until pasta’s tender. Otherwise, move on to the next step.
- Stir in shredded parmesan until incorporated. Taste, and add more salt, red pepper, of lemon juice if desired, and serve while fresh with extra parm on top!
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat with a touch of vegetable broth in a small pot over medium heat until hot.
*If you don’t want to buy both bouillon cubes and vegetable broth, use full-sodium vegetable or vegan beef broth in its place.
*You can make your own butternut squash puree by tossing butternut squash cubes in a touch of oil & salt, covering with aluminum foil in a casserole dish, and roasting at 400° F until tender; about 25 minutes. Then puree in a mini-food processor or personal-blender cup with a touch of water until smooth.
*Recipe directly inspired by Food 52’s One-Pot Penne with Sausage, Pumpkin, and Fennel recipe.