Roasted veggies give this vegan pasta sauce extra flavor and texture. Perfect for picky eaters and veggie lovers alike. You can’t go wrong with a pasta night.
Ah, age two. Precisely the age when both of my kids started using the word “no” with a vengeance, refusing all kinds of foods they’d previously loved. It’s also precisely the age when both of my kids started picking things out of dishes . . . like chopped veggies, lentils, and, well, anything. You better not show a speck of texture, or it’s going to be refused! I went from thinking I had nailed this kid-friendly-healthy-eating thing to feeling discouraged and defeated most days.
A few years ago, I came up with this sneaky pasta sauce out of sheer desperation—I needed to find a way to get more vegetables (hell, any vegetables!) into my kids’ bellies. During certain toddler phases, they were even turning away smoothies, but the one thing they rarely rejected was our dear old friend pasta. So I roasted a bunch of veggies and blended them into a homemade tomato sauce. Not only is it easy for busy people (just 15 minutes of prep!), but it’s incredibly nutritious, unique-tasting, thick, rich, and luxuriously smooth, perfect for even the most discerning of family members. Not in the mood for pasta? This sauce works beautifully as a tomato soup! Simply heat it up after blending and season to taste. Serve with fresh bread for dipping or crumbled crackers on top.
Roasted Veggie Pasta
- 1 medium 1 medium green or yellow zucchini
- 1 medium sweet onion
- 2 large red bell peppers, seeded
- 2 medium carrots, peeled
- 5 large garlic cloves
- 3 tbsp +1 tsp olive oil
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt, or to taste
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 16 oz dry pasta
- 28 oz canned fire roasted tomatoes with their juices
- ¼-½ tsp white wine vinegar, to taste
- ⅓ cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Line an extra-large (15 by21-inch/38 by 53 cm) baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Chop the zucchini, onion, and bell peppers into 1⁄2-inch (1 cm) pieces and slice the carrots crosswise into 1⁄4-inch-thick (5 mm)coins (it’s important to cut the vegetables to the specified sizes so they cook within the appropriate time frame), adding them to the prepared baking sheet as you go. You should have 2 cups zucchini, 1 1⁄2 cups onion, 3 cups bell peppers, and 1 1⁄4 cups carrots. Put the garlic cloves on a square of aluminum foil, drizzle with 1 teaspoon of the oil, and fold the foil to completely enclose the garlic.
- Toss the veggies with 2 tablespoons of the oil until thoroughly coated. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Place the foil packet with the garlic on the baking sheet.
- Roast the veggies and garlic uncovered, for 40 to 45 minutes, until the veggies are lightly charred (this adds mega flavor!)and fork-tender. You can remove the garlic a bit earlier to avoid burning it, if necessary. After cooking, carefully unwrap the garlic and discard the foil.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. When the veggies have about 10 minutes left in the oven, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
- In a high-speed blender, add the fire-roasted tomatoes with their juices, the roasted veggies and garlic, and the remaining1 tablespoon oil. Blend on medium speed until smooth. (Depending on the size of your blender, you may have to do this in a couple of batches.) The sauce will be luxuriously thick.
- Add your desired amount of sauce to the pot with the drained pasta and stir to combine. Depending on how much pasta you prepared, you may have sauce left over, so be sure to see the storage information. Stir in the vinegar to taste (start with 1⁄4 teaspoon and add more little by little from there) and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Stir in the basil (if using—if you have a picky eater who might spot that speck of green and gasp, you can sprinkle it over individual plates instead). Cover and simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes to allow the flavors to develop even more. Serve and enjoy!
Tips: Store leftover sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. Thaw (if frozen) and reheat in a pot over medium heat until heated through. For an extra-decadent sauce, stir in a bit of vegan butter during the last step—it’s lovely!
Reprinted with permission from Oh She Glows for Dinner, by Angela Liddon, Avery 2020.