As a non-vegan, I used to believe that eating vegan food meant that I had to omit ingredients and miss out on what I enjoy. However, as I’ve explored vegan recipes in the past year, I’ve come to realize that actually, a lot of the food I eat is already vegan, like my favorite, Penne Arrabiata.
Years ago when I was living in Rome, I lived on staples of pizza, panini, and of course, pasta. Contrary to the widespread ideas of Italian cuisine I’d learned at home, the real Italian diet was actually much lighter and healthier than the meat-sauce and heavy cream sauce-drenched pastas I’d grown used to.
In fact, meat was rarely the centerpiece of a meal, if it was present at all. It didn’t take long before I learned that even in ancient Rome, beef was considered a luxury and thus, was eaten rarely.
Instead, I was introduced to meals abundant in seasonal produce, pastas, and legumes, and my palate soon learned that what made dining such a pleasure was fresh, high-quality ingredients.
What’s in season right now? Check out 4 Seasonal Foods To Help You Lose Weight.
Penne Arrabiata is one of my favorite recipes (which just happens to be vegan!) that I regularly make in my home. It’s quick to cook with minimal ingredients and the heat makes it just perfect for wintertime.
What’s for dessert? Try making a mugcake!
1 lb. of vegan penne
15 oz. crushed tomatoes
1 big (3-finger) pinch of crushed red chili peppers
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of onion, diced
1 teaspoon of kosher salt plus more for the pasta water
1 pinch of beet sugar
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1. Bring a large stockpot of well-salted water to a boil
2. Cook the pasta until just less than al dente (~7-8 minutes) and drain, but be sure to save 1/4 cup of pasta water.
3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saucepan on medium-low and saute the chili flakes just until they “bloom” (or are fragrant). Add onions and garlic and saute until soft and translucent.
4. Pour in the tomatoes, salt and sugar, and stir; heat until bubbling, then turn off the heat.
5. Add the pasta and reserved pasta water into the sauce and toss to coat. Salt to taste.
6. Garnish with a few roughly torn leaves of fresh basil and serve immediately.
Do you find yourself running to the market every time for basil or other fresh herbs? Grow your own!
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