This is my family style contribution to the world of pasta. This makes enough to serve a refined table of 6 individuals, or two very hungry adults with a measly bit left over for lunch the next day. I was in camp two because I know no such thing as too much pasta, but if you make this pasta feed six people, I will be very proud of you.
This pasta is one of my favorite week night go to meals because it is on the table in under 30 minutes, has protein for days thanks to my friend the chickpea, and is loaded with veggies, so you know you’re getting the phytonutrients and fiber your body is craving. Plus it’s versatile, so you can sub in whatever you have on hand, so no need to make any special shopping trips.
Heat water on stove top burner, making sure to add about a 1/2 tsp of salt. Salting pasta water is so important because it increases boiling temperature so your pasta cooks quicker and more evenly, and also gives extra flavor to your dish. It’s like if you made the best (vegan) gravy in the world and poured it over plain mashed potatoes. Yeah, that’s fine, but if you poured that over salty, buttery, sour cream and chive mashed potatoes, it’s a whole different ballpark. So remember to flavor both halves of your meal, and not just the sauce. Boil pasta according to package directions, about 10 minutes.
While pasta is boiling, begin to dice onion, eggplant, and yellow squash into roughly 1/2″ size pieces, and chop broccoli florets into bite size chunks.
In a large pot, saute the onion in olive oil until it starts to brown, which takes about 8-10 minutes. You can sub avocado oil, or any other oil you like. I always infuse my olive oil in cruets, which adds tons of flavor. Simply buy a bulk size olive oil, and pour into smaller individual bottles, infusing with herbs or spices you like. I keep three on deck at all times: one with 6-7 cloves of garlic, peppercorn, and parsley, one with a big arbol chili pepper and peppercorns, and one with sprigs of dried rosemary and thyme. For this meal, I used the garlic one.
Add in eggplant and yellow squash and cook over medium heat for another 5-8 minutes. Pour in canned tomato sauce, I used a bulk size can, which was 28 ounces. You can use a jar of pasta sauce, canned crushed fire roasted tomatoes, or even add in 2 cups of roasted garden fresh tomatoes. Do do that, check out my substitutions below. At this point, you can also toss in your spices.
Open, drain, and rinse a can of chickpeas, then add to the pot. If you don’t get down with the canned kind, you can also make your own in a slow cooker by adding 2 cups dried chickpeas, 6 cups of water, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper (and even 5-8 garlic cloves if you’d like) to your slow cooker and cook on high for 6-7 hours.
At this point you can also toss in your artichokes. Drain if packed in water. If you found the kind packed in oil, simply scoop out of the jar, and add to the pot. Usually the oil is also filled with other spices that act as a delicious marinade, so you don’t want to rinse that off. Frozen artichokes also get the job done, and you don’t have to thaw ahead of time as the heat from the pot will cook them up pretty quickly. Cook another 5 minutes.
Stir in frozen or fresh peas and chopped greens (spinach, kale, or collards), and cook just enough to wilt the greens, about 3-4 more minutes. I always save this step for last because I’m not a fan of overdone mushy peas.
Top with nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan and fresh herbs if desired. Fresh basil and oregano are the way to go in my book. I also like a little spice, so I sprinkle hot pepper flakes on top.
Sub any and all veggies you like here. None of the veggies make or break this dish, so feel free to add in zucchini, carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms, whatever you like. Mushrooms take as long to cook as onions do, so ad them in the beginning if you choose to include them. Carrots also take a long time to cook if they’re chopped into 1/2” chunks, so dice finely or julienne if adding carrots.
Of course your pasta doesn’t have to be penne, either. Linguine, orrechiette, etc. will do fine as well.
You can swap in a bit of cinnamon if you don’t have nutmeg, or just omit completely.
If you don’t have canned crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce, you can use fresh roasted tomatoes. Place 3-4 cups of tomatoes, whole, on a baking mat and metal sheet pan, mist with olive oil, and roast in the oven at 400° for about 40 minutes until tender. No need to chop or peel first. Simply add to your pasta dish when you would normally add the tomato sauce.