The “V” Word continues its celebration of VeganMoFo, the month of Vegan food, with the other 25 letters of the alphabet. “S” is for Spicy Pumpkin Penne with Soy Feta and Hazelnuts.
Here is another dish that should be on your Thanksgiving menu especially if you are having dinner with pre-vegans! This will get rid of all those ideas that Vegan food is bland, boring and always means salad or tofu (even though salad and tofu can be anything but bland or boring).
First of all, everyone loves pasta (and if they don’t, they should). I used brown rice penne to keep the dish gluten-free but you could use whatever pasta rocks your Mayflower. A hearty pasta works best here to hold up to the sauce and other ingredients.
Speaking of other ingredients, this pasta dish has VEGAN FETA CHEESE. That’s right, Vegan feta. Of course, you could make your own but Sunergia Soyfoods makes a delicious Vegan feta cheese and in 3 different flavors. I prefer the Meditteranean Herb, myself. They also make Vegan Bleu Cheese.
It’s funny – before I was Vegan, I hated feta cheese. I never liked the salty, tangy flavor and would pick it off any of my food it dared to touch. But I love Vegan feta. It is much less salty but still has that tangy taste. It crumbles well and when you put it into the hot pasta sauce, it melts a bit and becomes like a ricotta going through the dish. Yum! So, second of all, for the all those people who “can’t live without cheese,” show them they don’t have to. They can have cheese AND be cruelty-free. So there!
Third, hazelnuts! Talk about fancy-schmancy. Hazelnuts have such a great flavor and they add some crunchy texture to the otherwise silky sauce. Hazelnuts are very autumny and holiday-ish (yes, those are words). Very impressive!
And finally, pumpkin. You have to have something pumpkin for the holidays. Everyone expects pumpkin soups and pies. Surprise them by putting the pumpkin in the pasta. It makes a rich, creamy sauce and without any added cream so it’s figure-friendly. Hello, under the new Weight Watchers Points Plus program (cue Jennifer Hudson singing), pumpkin has 0 points! That means you can eat even more pasta…I think.
So there you have it – all the reasons you just have to serve this dish for your Thanksgiving extravaganza. It’s delicious, it’s easy to make (especially if you use canned pumpkin) and it will knock the pilgrim boots off your guests.
Hearty penne, a silky, creamy, slightly spicy pumpkin sauce, tangy VEGAN feta cheese and crunchy hazelnuts. My Spicy Pumpkin Penne with Soy Feta and Hazelnuts is a dish to be thankful for. You’re welcome 🙂
Spicy Pumpkin Penne with Soy Feta and Hazelnuts
1 lb. brown rice penne
3 Tbs. vegan butter
1 large shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tbs. fresh sage, chopped (or 3 tsp. dried)
2 cups roasted pumpkin puree or 1-14 oz. can
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
6 oz. vegan feta cheese
1/3 cup raw hazelnuts, chopped
3 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
To make the roasted pumpkin puree:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape out the seeds. Place the pumpkin halves, skin side up, on a baking sheet. Roast pumpkin until the flesh is lightly browned and soft. Cool for 15 minutes or until you can handle it. Scrape the flesh from the pumpkin, place in a food processor and puree until smooth.
Or just buy a can of pumpkin puree 🙂
Cook the penne in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions. Reserve up to ½ cup of the starchy cooking water in case you need to loosen the sauce later.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Let the butter get slightly brown and nutty, about 3 minutes. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté about 2 minutes. Do not let them burn. Add the red pepper flakes and 1 Tbs. of the fresh sage (or 1 tsp. dried sage). Cook for another minute.
Stir in the pumpkin puree. Whisk in the broth until you have a looser sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss the penne with the remaining sage, most of the soy feta and hazelnuts (reserve some of each for garnish). Add the parsley to the penne.
If the sauce is too thick, add some of the reserved starchy cooking water to loosen it. I didn’t need any when I made it. Garnish with the remaining soy feta and hazelnuts. Serve while hot. Enjoy!
“S” is for Spicy Pumpkin Penne with Soy Feta and Hazelnuts. For other “S” words, check out my Spicy Chile Cheese Corn Muffins, my Spinach-Stuffed Seitan Roast, my Spinach Artichoke Dip, my Sweet N’Spicy Tempeh, my Stewed Patty Pan Squash, and my Scallion Corn Cakes with Black-Eyed Pea Salsa.
The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it.