Penne with Creamy Vegan Sweet Potato Sauce.

Last week was all about carb-loading.  Casey was getting ready for his marathon, and so I tried to make a few big hearty, healthy meals to help get him ready to run.  We don’t eat a ton of pasta in our house, but when we do I like to try to do something creative.

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I wasn’t in the mood for marinara – something creamy sounded just right.  I decided to experiment with using tofu and vegetables to create a creamy sauce.  Yep, you heard me.  Tofu and vegetables.  No cream, or even milk in this recipe.  The tofu brings that perfect creaminess with an additional punch of protein – and you can’t even taste it.  Golden raisins are the perfect slightly sweet garnish!

Penne with Creamy Vegan Sweet Potato Sauce

by Emily Malone

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 1 block firm tofu, drained but not pressed
  • 2 cups cooked sweet potato (~2 large potatoes)
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup pasta water (more if needed)
  • 15 – 20 leaves fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon Earth Balance
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)

Instructions

Start by cooking your sweet potato. I usually have mashed sweet potato on hand for Cullen, that I make in about ten minutes in the microwave. Poke a few holes in the potato and microwave until the inside has softened – easy as that!

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While the sweet potato cooks, get your pasta water on the stove and bring up to a boil.

In a high-powered blender or food processor, add the tofu, sweet potato, nutritional yeast, half the tarragon (about 10 leaves) and salt. When you open the package of tofu, drain the excess liquid out, but there is no need to press additional liquid from the block itself.

Tarragon is one of my favorite herbs, and for some reason it is grossly underused.  We planted it in herb pots this year, and I’ve been plucking the leaves off here and there to enhance and garnish our meals. 

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Blend until the mixture is smooth and silky.  It will look like nacho cheese.  Yum.

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Go ahead and get your pasta started – cooking according to package directions.

While the pasta cooks, transfer the sauce mixture to a sauce pan and warm over medium-low heat. Add 1 tablespoon of Earth Balance, and about 1/4 cup of pasta water to thin the sauce.

Since brands of tofu differ in water content and firmness, the thickness of the sauce will vary. Continue to add pasta water until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. As the sauce heats, it will thicken some, so you may want to add more just before serving.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to a large serving bowl.  You can either combine the pasta and sauce and toss all together, or portion into individual bowls and top with sauce just before serving. Up to you!

Garnish with minced tarragon and golden raisins – this really takes the pasta up a notch.

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Serve and enjoy!

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I love that this sauce tastes rich and creamy, but it’s actually protein dense and incredibly healthy.  Bulk up the nutritional profile by using whole wheat or high fiber pasta.  This is a quick and easy dish that would be great for a dinner party, as it’s simple but elegant, filling but not heavy. 

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As always, enjoy!

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