5 Plant-Based Pasta Sauces From Culinary School in Italy
Use greens, beans, nuts, and broth to make beyond-satisfying vegan sauces
When people ask me about the best thing I learned in Italian culinary school, I’m tempted to hit ’em with a showstopper — like the beef-tongue ravioli with carrot-ginger sauce or the seared scallops with a quintet of vegetable purées. Those were great, but if I’m being honest, the thing I’m most happy to have learned is much more practical for daily cooking: The sheer number of pasta sauces that are astoundingly delicious without meat or even cheese.
The secret? Combining ample extra-virgin olive oil and salt with one of five “bases,” which can be greens, nuts, greens and nuts, beans, or broth. Here’s how to make them. Rest assured that each is 100-percent vegan, Italian-approved, and proof that you don’t always need animal products to make pasta that warms your soul.
A note: Think of these sauces as loose foundations for your own customization; you can change out the base ingredients (kale instead of chard for the greens, almonds instead of walnuts for the nuts, etc.), switch up the flavor with your favorite herbs and spices, and combine them with any shape of pasta you like.
Never has there been a more attractive way to consume several handfuls of greens than blended until smooth and tossed with pasta. It couldn’t be easier: Blanch whatever green vegetables you have (tender leaves will take 2–3 minutes, while hardy broccoli might take closer to 5) and blend with seasonings into what is essentially a hot and spicy green smoothie for your orecchiette. While you don’t have to top this with garlicky breadcrumbs, it is a great idea.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. (You can use the same water for your vegetables and pasta — just add more salt when it’s time to cook the pasta). Blanch the vegetables, adding a clove of peeled garlic during the last minute of cooking (which will tame its punchiness a bit), and drain. Blend…