Hey, there's no need to order takeout for a richly satisfying Italian dinner for two! Get the red checkered tablecloth out. Light some candles. Bring out the 'nice' plates. Open a bottle of 'red'. You've got date night dialed.
I missed rich, sauced dishes like this when I went WFPBNO (Whole-food, Plant-based, no added oil). Having ditched the dairy, I thought, "oh, well, those days are gone" when I could indulge my senses with dishes like Stroganoff, or Pasta Alla Vodka. It seemed like the music was silent. The lights were out. Sigh. I was so wrong.
Noodling through my Recipe Box on The New York Times Cooking website the other day, I came across a recipe for Pasta Alla Vodka, and had one of those 'lightbulb' moments. I had been using cashews to make my Vegan No-Oil Mayonnaise .... so, why not this? Duh!
I'm a big believer in "use whatcha got!". I didn't have a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes, and didn't want to run to the grocery store. However, I did have one of those packages of mixed cherry tomatoes, and a regular tomato that was looking a little 'sad'. Use 'em or lose 'em. I measured out the weight to approximate the can of tomatoes, dumped them into the food processor and Voilá!
To bump up the flavor, I added a couple tablespoons of tomato paste. As I cooked the sauce - adding the rest of the ingredients - I added a couple more tablespoons of paste. I couldn't live without those squeeze tubes of Cento tomato paste. I keep one in the fridge at all times when I need just a bit of tomato paste or a 'hit' of umami in a dish.
Prep your ingredients (chop, mince and measure) and assemble everything into your workspace - or what the French refer to as Mis en Place. That jar with the lid? That's the Vegan Oil-Free Cashew Cream that will make this all work. The measuring cup of clear liquid? Vodka.
Wet sauté the onions, garlic and pepper flakes for about 3 minutes over medium heat, or until the onions are becoming translucent. Then, you can add the rest of the vodka. Bring up the heat a bit - medium high - for a couple minutes, stirring constantly, until the vodka begins to reduce. You want to burn off the alcohol.
By 'wet sauté', I mean sauté with water/broth/wine, or in this case vodka, instead of oil. Just enough liquid to keep the onions from sticking. Too much liquid and you'll be steaming rather than sautéing. When you learn to wet sauté you'll wonder how you ever cooked otherwise. No oil means many, many fewer calories, and more vibrant flavors. Oh, and that Extra Virgin Olive Oil is kind of expensive.
Add the canned or processed tomatoes and herbs.
Stir, taste, adjust. Salt and Pepper it according to your taste. Let this cook for a bit and reduce.
Now's the time to pour in some of that wonderful Vegan No-oil Cashew Cream you made. I start with a little, and add enough to turn it the pink-ish color that I want. You'll also need to taste and re-adjust the salt and pepper here.
This was the point that I decided to add a couple more spoonfuls of tomato paste. Stir in to combine. Taste? Perfect! Turn the heat down to the lowest, cover and hold.
Boiling the Rigatoni took about 15 minutes. I live at higher altitude and pasta just takes longer here. I love how I can hold the handles of the pot while it's boiling. That's the magic of induction cooktops. Cook the food, not the pot. Well, if the pot were simmering for a long period of time, the handles would be hot. Ouch! But, for the time it takes to cook pasta? Nope. Perfectly cool. "Look, Ma! No pot holders!" Drain the pasta when al dente.
You can pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and coat it, but I generally prefer to put this beautiful Rigatoni on the plate and ladle the sauce over the top as you see here. Serve with a salad and you're a happy camper.
Hey, if you like or make this dish, would you mind posting the recipe to Yummly? I'd really appreciate that. The Yummly icon is on the right side of this webpage. Oh, and saving to Pinterest would also be great! Each photo should have a Pinterest icon in the upper left corner! Thanks!
This button will take you to PayPal where you can securely pop a bit in the 'tip jar'.