Veggie Spaghetti, that’s what! Think of this as a versatile vegetarian pasta recipe that works wonders with a variety of vegetables so you can use whatever you have in the fridge. I like to think of this as a great way to use up any veggie scraps left in the produce drawer.
Let’s see who the stars of the show are:
Pasta — Any shape of pasta will do and you can swap in your favorite gluten-free or whole grain pasta if you’d like to.
Vegetables — The type of veggies are up to you, but we love zucchini, yellow squash, jarred roasted red peppers, leafy greens, peas, corn, and cabbage. Options are endless, here.
Onion, garlic, and tomato paste — These provide a base flavor for the simple sauce.
Canned whole tomatoes — You can use diced or crushed tomatoes, but we love the texture of whole tomatoes for this recipe. Just after adding them to the pot, we crush them a little with a spoon so they fall apart into a chunky sauce. You can also use blanched, peeled fresh tomatoes.
Herbs and spices — When we have it in the kitchen, we add fresh basil. Other herbs work, too (parsley and mint add a different flavor, but are excellent). Dried herbs like oregano, crushed red pepper flakes also make the sauce delicious.
Mushroom powder — Okay, now this one is optional, but for the best, most flavorful vegetarian pasta, we highly recommend using mushroom powder. It adds a rich umami flavor to the sauce and is our secret weapon when making meatless recipes. You can make it yourself or buy it. Trader Joe’s has even started to sell their own version.
Making Veggie Pasta From Scratch
Here are the basic steps you’ll need to follow:
Soften chopped onions in olive oil over medium heat.
Stir in garlic, spices, and tomato paste.
Throw in your vegetables and cook until tender.
Add canned whole tomatoes and break them up a bit with a spoon. You want the sauce to be chunky.
Season and then simmer the sauce until it’s reduced slightly — somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes.
While the sauce simmers, cook your pasta.
Toss the pasta with the sauce and serve.
I love serving the spaghetti with a generous amount of parmesan cheese, but if you are vegan, try sprinkling a bit of nutritional yeast on top instead.
12 ounces spaghetti or pasta of choice
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup (140 grams) chopped onion
2 medium zucchini, chopped (1/2 pound)
2 medium yellow squash, chopped (1/2 pound)
3 garlic cloves, minced (1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
One (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (1 heaping cup)
2 to 3 teaspoons mushroom powder, optional, see notes
5 cups (1/2 pound) spinach leaves
Handful fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast for serving
Heat olive oil in a wide skillet with sides over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until translucent; 3 to 5 minutes.
Add zucchini, yellow squash, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and a generous pinch of salt then cook, stirring occasionally until softened but still with some crunch; 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook another minute. (When making this sauce, we usually end up using between 1 and 1 1/2 teaspoons of fine sea salt.)
Add the roasted red peppers, tomatoes, and mushroom powder. Bring to a low simmer and cook until the liquid has thickened and reduced by half; about 10 minutes. As the sauce cooks, use a spoon to break up the whole tomatoes into smaller pieces for a chunky sauce.
While the sauce simmers, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil then cook pasta according to package directions.
Take the sauce off of the heat, and then stir in the spinach and basil. Taste then adjust with additional salt if needed. Toss in the cooked pasta, and then leave for a minute so that the pasta absorbs some of the sauce and the spinach wilts. Toss again, and then serve with parmesan or nutritional yeast sprinkled on top.