Veganism starts from a good place — avoiding meat and dairy products to end the suffering of livestock raised in captivity for human consumption — but the lifestyle requires commitment. No one wants to join a food movement that doesn't involve tasty food. Vegan converts may not need convincing, but the rest of us require an incentive to change our ways.
Fortunately, this pasta dish has a lot more going for it than virtuousness. The reasons are threefold: ease of preparation, basic ingredients and high marks for flavor without resorting to sugar or fat. Instead, most of the appeal comes from the vegetables, which are simmered with herbs over low heat, while you're waiting for pasta water to boil. The time between preparing the sauce and plating the final dish gives the ingredients ample time to fuse.
So rather than fret over the state of farm production, try chowing down on vegan pasta. Your taste buds will thank you.

Prep time: 20 minutes 

Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yields: Feeds 6 to 8

Vegan Penne

Equipment you'll need

  • Chef's knife
  • Cutting board
  • Large cooking pot
  • Colander
  • 12-inch cast-iron skillet
  • Spatula
  • Ladle
The ingredients for vegan penne pasta


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil + extra
  • 1 medium -sized onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 soy-based Italian sausage, sliced
  • 22 oz. spaghetti sauce, tomato basil or mushroom
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, loosely chopped
  • 2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
  • 1 lb. penne pasta, dry weight
Cooking directions
  1. Add oil to sauce pan over medium high heat for about 2 minutes, until oil begins to shimmer. Add onion and garlic, sauté 6 to 8 minutes, until tender. Bank onion to the side; add mushrooms to the pan and sauté until brown, about 8 minutes. Combine with onions. Add Italian seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Stir until aromatic. Bank vegetables to side of pan, then add sausage and heat through. Combine ingredients, and pour spaghetti sauce over contents of saucepan, add a splash of olive oil and red pepper flakes. Cook until sauce begins to bubble, reduce heat to low, cover and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, fill large cooking pot about 2/3 of the way full with water. Add 3 teaspoon salt, cover and bring water to a rapid boil about 20 minutes. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and add pasta to sauce with 2 oz. pasta water. Stir pasta and top with fresh basil. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese on the side, if you choose.

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