The ultimate winter comfort food! It’s a little spicy and very flavorful!
- 1 (16 oz) package of vegan rigatoni pasta
- 1 (12 oz) package Hungry Planet Italian Sausage, or another plant-based alternative
- 1 tbsp cornstarch (arrowroot powder works well, too)
- 4 tablespoons vegan butter (separated in half)
- 1–2 pieces of bread torn into small bite-sized pieces
- 1 (12 oz) jar roasted red peppers, drained and roughly chopped
- 1 cup Silk half and half
- 1/2 cup red wine (or, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar and 1/4 cup water mixed)
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sage
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup vegan parmesan, grated or shredded
- fresh parsley, minced
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional, but recommended)
Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and spray a 12″ round or oval baking dish with non-stick spray. I used my largest oval French Corningware with a glass lid.
In a small bowl, mix 1/2 tsp garlic powder with 1 1/2 teaspoons: oregano, sage, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Add breadcrumbs, 2 tbsp melted butter, and half of the spice mixture to a bowl. Toss well to coat. Toast in oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, cook pasta according to the instructions on the package (each pasta varies). Reserve one cup of pasta water and set it aside. Drain well, and do not rinse.** Add cooked pasta to a large bowl.
- While the pasta is cooking, add the sausage to a large skillet and cook over medium heat until browned. Carefully remove sausage from skillet and set aside. In the same pan, add the remaining 2 tbsp’s butter, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the remaining teaspoon of garlic powder and cook until the butter is melted and bubbling. Add onions and red peppers. Stir frequently until onions become translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add minced garlic, and saute until fragrant @ 30 seconds. Add red wine and use a spatula to stir well and deglaze any fond* from the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until liquid evaporates, 2-3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and carefully the ingredients to a blender, or use an immersion blender, add cornstarch, and puree until smooth—return sauce to the pan.
- Over medium heat, stir in half-and-half. Add 1/2 cup parmesan, cooked sausage, and remaining spices to the sauce. Stir frequently and cook until sausage has warmed through, about 2-3 minutes. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper, and additional spices if needed.
- Add pasta to skillet and stir well to coat. Add 1/2 cup pasta water, and mix well. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Add remaining cheese, and top with buttered herbed breadcrumbs.
- Bake covered for 25 minutes, or until bread crumbs are lightly golden.
- Serve garnished with fresh parsley, red pepper flakes, and additional parmesan. Enjoy!
*Fond, is quite simply, is the stuff that sticks to your pan after browning meat or vegetables on the stovetop, or at the bottom of a roasting pan after it has come out of the oven. Good stuff, just don’t burn it. If you do it’s no good and can ruin your dish.
**You want some starch on the outside of the pasta, as it helps the sauce adhere.