It must be the cold weather that’s piqued my appetite lately, especially for pasta. It’s not that I’m more active this time of year, quite the opposite, I think I just physically require more food in the cooler weather. Completely scientifically unproven and I’m completely okay with that.
I’m of the school of simple thought that states: if you’re hungry, you should have something to eat, and if you’re not, perhaps wait a while until you are, then have something to eat, preferably with green vegetables in the mix. After finding a particularly delicious blend of gluten-free pasta last week with amaranth and quinoa, nearly every other day is pasta and greens for dinner. And this is my latest and greatest mixing of the two.
The (no-cook) bechamel sauce is made with silken tofu (stay with me here), making this dish taste decadent without being cloying or stodgy. Another perk of the tofu is its fantastic protein content, keeping you satisfied. The sauce is all heightened with a fair amount of lemon, not so much that it’s sour, but enough to deliver a welcome punch of brightness. I’ve complimented this lemony cream sauce with Swiss chard, a green I’m always looking for ways to jazz up. If you have spinach (fresh or frozen), kale, or broccoli, you could use that here instead.
This vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free (but I promise, flavour-full) pasta dish is bright, velvety, substantial yet light, incredibly simple, and conquers even the biggest creamy pasta craving you’ll undoubtedly get at some point this fall and winter.
Vegan Penne Alfredo with Swiss Chard Recipe
Pasta is tossed with sautéed chard and a creamy, no-cook vegan tofu Alfredo cream sauce (bechamel). This recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, and is ready in under 30 minutes for a speedy dinner the whole family will love. It’s healthy comfort food at its best.
Vegan Alfredo Cream Sauce (Dairy-Free Bechamel)
1 (350g) package silken tofu (‘lite-firm’)
1/3 cup soy milk or water
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp sea salt or vegetable bouillon powder
Ground pepper, to taste, more for serving
1 tsp dried whole or fresh thyme
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Greens and Pasta
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch swiss chard, stems removed and diced, leaves shredded (try kale or spinach here instead)
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 to 3/4 lb (6 to 8 oz) penne (gluten-free, if necessary)
- Place a large pot of water on to boil; season well with salt.
- For the vegan alfredo sauce, add all sauce ingredients to a blender or food processor. Purée until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
- For the greens, in a large high-sided saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add diced chard stems, onion, and garlic. Sauté over medium until softened (about 10 minutes). Add shredded chard leaves and cook until wilted. Set aside.
- For the pasta, cook penne according to package directions (about 8 minutes for gluten-free penne). Drain (and rinse if using gluten-free pasta). Add back to pot along with prepared cream sauce and greens. Heat over medium, stirring frequently, until piping hot. Season with salt, if desired. Serve immediately in warm bowls with freshly cracked pepper.