The dish in the book is “red bell pepper and chickpea pasta”. I thought the pictures looked tasty and went to the store to get the ingredients I needed. The whole time I was picturing it as a roasted red pepper dish. So vividly that I even turned on the oven to roast them before reading the recipe.
As it turns out the recipe just calls for stir-frying the diced red peppers. But once you go roasted, you don’t go back… so I proceeded with my roasted version, and along the way I ended up making a bunch of other changes to the ingredients and method, although I did keep the base concept of crumbled chickpeas. I also added some smoked paprika to complement the smoky and sweet roasted red peppers. We really enjoyed the balance of flavors.
Today this smoky roasted red pepper and chickpea pasta was served with a certain brand of gluten-free penne pasta that claims on the packaging, “[this pasta]’s superior texture can withstand quite a bit of overcooking”. I unintentionally put this claim to the test while keeping the pasta hot for photographing, and I can confirm that the claim is aggrandized. However, the delicious tangle of broken-up pasta pieces was still thoroughly enjoyed by us.
So anyway, use your favorite pasta here, but don’t use THAT pasta, unless you are you going to keep the pasta and sauce separate and only mix them at serving time, in which case I’m certain it would work just fine!
The rest of Power Vegan Meals is supposed to be focused on high-protein meals that don’t require a lot of prep. There are many appealing recipes in the book although I found that I wanted to make some changes to the flavor profiles of most of them to suit my taste.
I found the “high-protein” aspect of this book really misleading and disappointing. For example, a taco recipe states that it contains 32g of protein per serving, but each serving is 1180 calories, with 167g of carbohydrates and 45g of fat. Those nutritional specs are definitely not high-protein: in this recipe, per calorie and per gram, protein is vastly outweighed by carbohydrates and fat. To enjoy these 32g of protein, some would need to eat most of their calories for the entire day. Scaling up the serving size for the purpose of meeting a target protein quantity makes no practical sense, is misleading, and was done frequently in other recipes throughout the book.
There’s no doubt that most of the recipes in the book are fast, approachable and nutrient dense. Though I find the protein claims questionable I think it’s still a nice collection that gave me some good ideas. Some others that caught my eye include the lentil stuffed potato cakes, the quinoa cream sauce noodles, the bbq bean loaf, and the toasted chickpea tacos with mango relish. If you’re targeting a high protein profile in your diet you will need to modify many of the recipes to meet your needs, so I wouldn’t recommend purchasing the book for that reason.
Because of my choosing whole grain pasta and reducing the oil quantity quite a bit, I was able to upgrade my version of Power Vegan Meals‘s roasted red pepper and chickpea pasta to be fairly well balanced with lower fat and higher fiber; and it’s delicious to boot! While it’s not some kind of crazy protein powerhouse, it’s brimming with vitamin C, vitamin A, and fiber. Other recipes from the book could probably be modified similarly to this one. For more protein boost, you can serve with additional cooked chickpeas; or add some quick pan-crisped seitan.
Roasted Red Pepper and Chickpea Pasta
Juicy and sweet roasted red bell peppers combine with crumbled chickpeas and tomatoes for a flavorful, nutritious, higher-protein pasta sauce. This easy vegan pasta dish is ready in a flash!
- 8 oz brown rice penne or other pasta of choice
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 shallot diced (or use 1/4 yellow or white onion)
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/8 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/8 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup diced tomato (I used canned)
- 2 roasted red bell peppers finely chopped (with juices)
- freshly-squeezed lemon juice (for serving)
- 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas (equal to 1 15-oz can), roughly chopped (see notes)
- fresh basil, chives or parsley (optional, for serving)
- hemp seed parmesan (optional, for serving)
Cook the pasta in salted water according to package directions, until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta cooking liquid, drain the pasta, and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot or onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and translucent, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 60 seconds more. Add the red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, ground black pepper, and dried oregano, and cook for another 30 seconds or until fragrant.
Add the tomato paste, stir it in, and then add the diced tomato, chopped roasted red peppers, and chopped cooked chickpeas. Stir well and reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes have softened and broken down. Add the reserved pasta liquid and the drained pasta, stir, and cook until hot throughout. (NOTE: if the dish will not be served immediately and if using gluten-free pasta, keep the drained pasta separate).
Season to taste with salt, pepper, and fresh lemon juice. Serve hot, garnished with fresh herbs if desired.
CHOPPING CHICKPEAS: The easiest way to chop chickpeas is in a food processor. If you don't have one, I recommend first smashing them gently in a bowl, before transferring them to a cutting board to chop them with a knife. The pre-smashing helps to stop them from rolling around everywhere.
ROASTED RED PEPPERS: Use jarred roasted red peppers (4 pieces) or roast your own by placing whole peppers on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and cooking at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour, rotating occasionally, until collapsed and soft. Let cool and then remove seeds and peels. Reserve any extra juices that escape and add them to the pasta sauce too.
GRAIN-FREE: Use a legume-based pasta such as Explore Cuisine.
LEFTOVERS: First of all, this recipe is very easily doubled. However, if you're using gluten-free pasta, I strongly recommend storing the pasta and sauce leftovers separately or you will be enjoying Leftover Mushy Pasta Casserole. Aside from that, leftovers keep well in the fridge.
WHITE WINE: If you already have some on hand, a splash of white wine added with the tomatoes would be lovely in this dish!
Disclosure: I was provided a complimentary review copy of Power Vegan Meals. This probably goes without saying, but all opinions are my own.