Whole-Spelt Pasta Shells With Vegan Zucchini-Olive-Sauce Sprinkled With Vegan Parmesan

Oh boy is my title long, I had to proof-read it three times and am still not sure I spelled everything correctly. But, I am trusting my instincts, as I have been all evening in my two adult-classes. It seems like lately it doesn’t really matter how much I prepare my lessons, nothing ever goes as planned anyways. I don’t mean that in a negative way whatsoever, but today, instead of listening to an article reading and doing some exercises, we spent 30 minutes discussing the difference between “to remind” and “to remember”, and when to use “much” and “many”. I am a bit proud, I have to admit, to be able to just pull explanations out of my sleeves as we go along, and have yet to be taken aback by something in one of my classes.

Perhaps I was so good on my feet today because of the awesome Italian dinner I prepared for my boyfriend and I. It really was spectacular, yet so simple, which is a combo I love in weekday-meals. The trick with Italian sauces using a tomato base is a) to add up to 1 teaspoon,  of sugar and b) to allow it to simmer for what seems like ages (up to 15-20 minutes). This really allows the tomato sauce to thicken up, reveal all its flavorful tomato taste, and really take the dish to another level.

I was out of parmesan, as my boyfriend loves spreading it on his frozen pizzas he sometimes indulges in (shame on him, I know, but I love him anyways), but I found a great recipe for vegan parmesan cheese here, and must say it turned out delicious. My boyfriend didn’t even try it, but I figure the “vegan” part in combination with the word “cheese” was a turn-off. I must say I loved it with this pasta dish, and am excited to try it out on different dishes (as it makes a huge yield, I filled almost 2 cups!). Thank you VegKitchen for this awesome recipe! (Btw, I used almonds and hempseeds.)

Whole-Spelt Pasta Shells With Vegan Zucchini-Olive-Sauce

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The colors don’t contrast so well in the picture, as both the vegan parmesan and the whole-spelt pasta shells are brown, but it looked even better once I mixed it:

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Let’s take a look up close:

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Yum Yum YUUUUM!

Ingredients:

(serves 3)

  • 350g whole-spelt pasta shells (or any other type of pasta)
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced (normal onion would be fine as well, but red onions are milder in taste, working well with this hearty sauce)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • a glass of black, pitted olives
  • 400ml tomato purée
  • 150ml vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried Italian herbs
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. brown sugar

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Procedure:

1. Heat water for pasta and cook according to instructions on the package.

2. In a pan, heat the olive oil, and then sauté the chopped onions. Once they turn glassy, add the chopped zucchini and garlic. Stir and allow to brown for about 1 1/2 minutes.

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3. Once the zucchini have started browning and sizzling, stir in the vegetable broth, bring to a boil and, after 3 minutes of allowing it to boil, stir in the tomato purée.

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4. Bring to a boil, then add in the seasoning (salt, pepper, herbs including oregano, sugar) and stir frequently. Cover with a lid and turn down to medium heat. Allow to simmer for 4 minutes, then add the olives.

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5. Cover with the lid again and turn down to low heat. Allow to simmer for at least 10 minutes, but the longer you allow it to simmer, the better! I waited for my boyfriend to come home, which took about 15 minutes longer than I had anticipated, so my sauce was very thick and almost creamy by the time I served it. Perfection!

6. Serve with drained pasta shells, sprinkled with some vegan parmesan cheese, or normal parmesan if you want. The vegan parmesan cheese gives this dish a minimally nutty flavor, but mostly a surprisingly parmesan-like melt, and definitely a parmesan-like texture/crunch! Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!

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