Friday, March 18, 2011

Penne No-Vodka

As I have mentioned previously, I am a huge fan of Italian food.  I love it so much, I am pretty much made of pasta.  Every inch you can squeeze on me is directly attributed to either dessert or noodles, something I struggle with daily, lol!

My highest concern when going vegan was veganizing my beloved Italian favorites, but alas my continuing struggles with fettucine alfredo have been well documented, and there hasn't been any success on that front so far.  Tonight I thought I would try my hand at my second favorite Italian dish, Penne Vodka, which is a delicious dish consisting of penne pasta and a creamy rosa sauce. 

Bear in mind, I have never made this dish before, even when I wasn't vegan I left it to the professionals.  Because of this, I had no idea how to make it, and I totally winged it.  I do know the real deal contains vodka, (the alcohol cooks off, but it's supposed to do something for the dish.  No idea what.) but I don't keep that in my home so that was out.  I just kind of guessed at what else I thought might be in it, and created a little dish I like to call "Penne No-Vodka", which just so happened to turn out delicious and actually pretty close in flavor.

If you want to make it, you will need:

1/2 Box Whole Grain Penne
1/3 of a jar marinara
1/2 package Trader Joe's Chicken-Less Strips
2 tsp Minced Garlic
Generous splash So Delicious plain coconut creamer
3 tbs Garlic Chive Galaxy Nutrition Vegan Cream Cheese (New product, SOOOO good!!)
3 tbs Wayfare foods We Can't Say it's Sour Cream
2 tsp sundried tomato spread (if you can't find this, it's totally optional, but I liked it)
Galaxy Nutrition Vegan Parmesan to taste

Putting it all together is pretty easy.  I started by sauteeing the mushrooms, garlic and chicken in a tiny bit of olive oil while I put the pasta in to cook.  When they were slightly browned, but not burned, I added the other ingredients and put it on simmer.  With the creamer, mushrooms and vegan parm, I just eyeballed it.  It's one of those situations where it is subjective to taste, so I will leave it up to you.

I continued to stir the simmering sauce on and off until the pasta was done cooking.  After draining the pasta, I topped it with the sauce, and put some additional parm on top, as well as dusting of garlic salt, but I have to remind you yet again, I am a garlic lovin gal, so add with caution! :)  This is how it turned out:

Honestly, I was really pleased with this dish.  I was so happy to discover you don't need dairy, or even vodka for that matter to make a decent penne vodka.  It was rich, creamy, and total comfort food.  All while having whole grains, protein, and a serving of veggies through the marinara.  If you threw in a salad, this would be a pretty balanced meal, even if it's not exactly low cal, I would put money on the fact that it blow's it's omni counterpart out of the water nutritionally. 

I was home alone tonight, so this recipe is geared towards dinner for one.  It made enough for the shown bowl of pasta, and a lunch sized portion to put away for later.  If you are feeding a group, use the whole jar of marinara and the whole box of pasta, and eyeball the rest of the ingredients.  Don't worry, you can do it.  You are a good chef, I have faith in you! :)

My only recommendation for next time would be sauteed onions, I think that would have made it perfect!  Anyway, hopefully you enjoy this dish, and have a wonderful weekend.  Happy eating!

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