Vegan and gluten-free Creamy Chili Sauce with Zucchini, Spinach and Pasta. An incredibly creamy, rich and yet light with no oil or butter. Just whole food ingredients. So much flavor from Italian dried herbs and chili powder and tomato sauce.
If there was ever a throw-together meal that turned out amazing, this is it!! I'm sharing another sauce and pasta dish today. Sauces are one of my favorite things to create, as if it wasn't obvious by now. My collection is huge. Wellll, this is sooooo good, creamy, amazing, filling, "restaurant-worthy", as my hubby said. You all wanted this recipe sooo bad when I shared this quick phone snap of my dinner 2 nights ago. Regardless of the fact that I'm a blogger, I do not like to measure ingredients. In fact, I'm a throw-together kind of cook, and even baker. A lot of my dinners I just throw together on instinct and taste as I go. I've always done the same when I create cakes, cookies, etc. I have literally had to make myself start writing things down as I'm creating, in case it turns out, I can easily remake it and post it here. I do that now for my baked goods, except for cookies. If I'm craving cookies, I hardly ever measure, unless I'm following a specific recipe of mine, I will just throw everything into a bowl. I'm always pressed for time, so measuring takes longer. However, it is very important to get the right amounts for a recipe to be posted, so the results turn out right for you guys. In that case, I'm very precise in what I post here.
This recipe today, Creamy Chili Sauce with Zucchini, Spinach and Pasta, is infused with a good dose of chili powder (hence the name). I mean, look at all those yummy specks of chili powder in the sauce.
I wasn't even thinking of creating for the blog, I was just in a hurry to make dinner. As you know, I share my dinners and lunches often with you all on Facebook and IG. Well, I quickly rushed to remake this one and actually write down measurements so I could share the recipe, since the response was so big. So, I hope you are all happy and scarf it down in mere seconds the way my family did. It is THAT GOOD.
I love proving you don't need animal products to make a delicious dish. Vegan substitutes are soooo easy. Instead of dairy cow milk, I love to use cashew milk, coconut milk and even almond milk. My favorite is cashew milk though, homemade, because it is the creamiest.
My hubby was so in love with it and said it 100% reminded him of a crawfish fettucini dish that used to be served in a seafood restaurant that he managed many years ago. Obviously, minus the crawfish, just the sauce flavor. I have never had that dish, but all I can tell you is that it is full of flavor, full of creaminess and so darn fast and easy to make...it's a dream recipe really to whip up.
It is both dairy-free and oil-free and made with healthy whole food plant-based ingredients. I used homemade cashew milk, my favorite milk in cooking. I love the richness and creaminess it provides. It also has a very subtle sweetness to it, which just makes everything taste better. One of my other favorite flavor bomb pasta sauce recipes on the blog is my Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Pasta with Fresh Basil. Try it if you haven't yet, it is amazing.
NOTE: A couple of readers have stated that their sauce has turned out watery. Please read the recipe carefully. Make sure to measure accurately, which is why I give weight in grams. I make this weekly and it always, always turns out creamy. I have noted very clearly that I used my homemade cashew milk for the recipe. As you can see in the video as I'm cooking each step, exactly how it turns out. If you do NOT use the homemade cashew milk, yours will NOT turn out as creamy. Store-bought cashew milk is loaded with fillers, not actual cashews like homemade, therefore it will NOT THICKEN the same as mine. If you absolutely cannot do the homemade cashew milk, then use full-fat coconut milk.
Yields About 8 cups
Creamy Chili Sauce with Zucchini, Spinach and Pasta (Vegan)
You only need 8 ingredients (plus s&p) to make this amazing creamy and full-flavored dish. It is so fast to come together and so delicious and filling. This will become a weekly staple.
15 minPrep Time
30 minCook Time
45 minTotal Time
4.7 based on 11 review(s)
2 cups dry elbow pasta (I used GF brown rice pasta. You can use spiral or other short pasta, but wouldn't recommend long noodles)
1 cup (240g) low-sodium veggie broth or water, more as needed (I used broth for more flavor)
1 loosely filled cup (130g) finely chopped onion
2 small zucchini (365g), sliced into half moons 1/4 inch thick
1 cup (240g) homemade cashew milk (SEE NOTE below. DO NOT sub with store-bought cashew, it will NOT thicken like my version)
3/4 cup (180g) tomato sauce
1 tablespoon dried Italian spice blend (I use the McCormick blend, you want one with no salt or red pepper added)
1/2-1 tablespoon chili powder (SEE NOTE, not habanero, just a standard American chili powder. McCormick or Fiesta brand is good)
4 large handfuls fresh spinach (100g)
1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt (notice in directions you are adding salt at different times)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
optional: 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
NOTE: I highly recommend making this with my homemade cashew milk. I make my own cashew milk by adding 1 cup raw cashews to 3 cups filtered water and blend in a Vitamix until completely smooth. That's it, no need to drain. Store extra in fridge and I use it for baking and for oatmeal. Cashew milk is absolutely going to give the BEST creamy results, so I wouldn't recommend subbing UNLESS allergic to nuts. Otherwise use canned FULL-FAT coconut milk (well shaken) or if you want to use soy then mix it first with 2 Tbsp brown rice flour (see directions), the results will be less creamy/rich, but will work.
NOTE 2: Regarding the chili powder, 1/2 tablespoon will give it a very mild level of heat and chili flavor, whereas 1 tablespoon will give it a noticeable level of heat, which both my hubby and I thought was perfect. But it may be too much for sensitive people and for kids. My daughter thought it was a tad too spicy, so if you are unsure, start with 1/2 tablespoon.
Make sure your veggies are chopped/prepared at the beginning, as the sauce comes together pretty quickly.
Begin by bringing a large pot of water to boil for your pasta. Adding a lid will make it boil faster. Make sure to salt your water well so the pasta is well seasoned.
Add the onion and broth to a large sauce pan over medium heat. Once it begins to simmer, cook 5 mins and then add the zucchini and just 1/4 teaspoon of salt at this time. Stir well and add cover. Turn the heat down to medium-low. It's important to cover the zucchini so it cooks through well. Let it all cook about 8 minutes until the zucchini is nice and tender (no longer crunchy), but not mushy. Check it a couple of times to stir it and make sure there is enough broth, if necessary to keep the zucchini cooking, add a little bit more. You basically want most of the liquid gone though before the next step.
Once the zucchini is tender, temporarily remove the pan from the heat and add the 1 cup cashew milk (or coconut milk), tomato sauce, Italian spices, chili powder (start out with 1/2 T), remaining 1 teaspoon salt, pepper and liquid smoke (if using). Stir well and add the spinach. Return back to the heat over medium heat. The spinach will look like a ton but will decrease significantly. Stand over the stove stirring the spinach around until it wilts down and is cooked and the sauce thickens just a bit. You don't want to overcook the sauce, you want it fairly creamy/saucy but it should be creamy thick, not watery.
Taste the sauce and add more salt or chili powder if desired for more spicy. I used the full 1 tablespoon chili powder and loved the perfect kick of heat and chili flavor. Remove from heat.
The pasta should be done. Drain and scoop in desired amount of pasta into the sauce, leaving plenty of sauce to enjoy. Devour! How much you end up with will depend on how much pasta you add, but this makes a good amount of sauce.
Nutrition: Serves 4 (About 2 cups each): Calories: 253.9 Fat: 4.9 g Carbohydrates: 43.8 g Sugar: 6.4 g Sodium: 673 mg Fiber: 6.9 g Protein: 9 g
The Vegan 8
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Hi! I'm Brandi, a wife and mom behind this blog who healed my husband's gout and my digestion issues through a plant-based diet. I'm not complicated, I keep things simple. All my recipes are 8 ingredients or less, not including salt, pepper or water. They are allergy-friendly, as they are all vegan, oil-free and nearly all are gluten-free. You'll find lots of baked goods here, as I've been a baker all my life, it's my passion!