Tonight was definitely a pasta kind of night.
Pasta has always been one of my favorite foods. Growing up, I was a huge lover of rich and creamy sauces. But after discovering the severity of my lactose intolerance a few years ago, I decided to give up most dairy products, and grew to love simple, lighter sauces even more.
Although I haven’t eaten cheese in years, the craving can be difficult to resist, especially when Parmesan is a staple in your Italian family’s household. I have never been a big fan of vegan cheese substitutes, until a year ago when I discovered nutritional yeast!
Nutritional yeast is an inactive form of yeast (different from the active form used in breads) that has a nutty, cheesy flavor, and is delicious sprinkled into a variety of sauces, or on top of salads, cooked veggies, popcorn, you name it! Each tablespoon is also packed with nutritional value, as it is fortified with an abundance of B-complex vitamins, and serves as a plant source of complete protein. I have to admit that, despite the nutrient benefits, the thought of using a form of yeast as a cheese replacement seemed a bit weird to me initially. But when I finally tried it, let’s just say it was “love at first bite.”
I love getting creative with creamy vegan pasta sauces, and have been experimenting a lot lately, using avocado, butternut squash, cauliflower, and even chickpeas at the base of them. This particular recipe is a bit simpler, my quick and easy (Italian-infused) spin on a healthier (and vegan) version of the beloved “easy mac.” My other cream sauce recipe experiments will be posted in the future, so keep an eye out for them!
- 8 oz. whole grain macaroni of choice (I used gluten-free brown rice pasta)
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (optional, but highly recommended)
- Cook pasta in a pot of salted (lightly) boiling water according to the pasta box directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and garlic in a skillet over low heat. Cook about 3 minutes, until fragrant, watching carefully to prevent garlic from burning. Remove from heat.
- Stir together nutritional yeast, turmeric powder, and salt in a small bowl.
- Combine hot cooked pasta with oil and garlic sauce, nutritional yeast mix, and enough pasta water to form a smooth and mildly creamy sauce to coat the pasta. Stir in cherry tomatoes (or any other vegetable of choice).
- Serve, and enjoy!