I never thought I’d say this, but I might just love the Vegan Yum Yum recipe for spaghetti better than regular spaghetti. Why? Well when I was in college, an Italian friend of mine would occasionally cook pasta for friends. It was the best darn pasta I had ever tasted. You could taste the fresh tomatoes in every bit of the only slightly cooked sauce and it would make your mouth water. Very little was added to it, but he captured the flavor of tomatoes in a way that only true Italians can. It ruined jarred spaghetti sauce for me forever. Well, the vegan version comes very close to what my friend used to make. The key is in the simplicity – only a few ingredients blended together and cooked for just four or five minutes. While you can make the recipe with whole wheat pasta, I was on a low-carb health kick and decide I was going to serve it with a just a whole spaghetti squash (idea courtesy of the Vegan Project). I’m not joking when I say it was addictive.
What You Need:
2 Roma tomatoes (2 cups roughly chopped, 1 1/2 cups blended)
½ cup raw cashews
1 tbsp. tomato paste
¼ cup water
1 tbsp. olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic, minced, optional
1 medium spaghetti squash or 6 oz whole wheat spaghetti
1 tsp salt
2-3 tbsp. fresh black pepper
1 large handful of basil, chopped (though I used tarragon and it worked great as well)
What to Do:
If you’re using the spaghetti squash like I did, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Lay on a baking sheet with the rind side up and cook for about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit so you can handle it. Use the cool down time to make the sauce. When its still warm but easily manageable, scrape a fork down the squash lengthwise to separate the strands.
If you’re cooking pasta, bring salted water to a boil and cook for the pasta for about 9 minutes until al dente.
To make the sauce, roughly chop the tomatoes and place into the blender (skins, seeds, pulp, and all). Add in the cashews, water and tomato paste and blend until extremely smooth.
In a pan, sauté the garlic over medium-low heat. After about a minute, add in the sauce from the blender and the salt and cook for 4-5 minutes on medium-high heat. The sauce can be thinned out at this point with water, wine, or even vodka. Add the spaghetti squash or pasta to the pan, toss to coat, and serve warm. Finish with black pepper and basil/tarragon.