Similar to but lighter than a vegan alfredo, pasta, chickpeas, and lots of vegetables are tossed together in a light, creamy, vegan sauce.
Welcome to another installment of My Family’s Favorite Recipes!
If my daughter had her way, we’d eat pasta at every meal. Lasagna, mac and cheese, chili mac–she’s not picky, she’ll devour any of them. About once a week I give in to her demands, and the dish I most often make is this one, which she calls “That Pasta with All the Vegetables and White Sauce” because I’ve never come up with a catchy name for it.
Similar to but much lighter than a vegan Alfredo, it’s perfect for my family because it fulfills my daughter’s desire for noodles and my need for vegetables. In fact, it contains twice as many vegetables as pasta, a good thing in my opinion.
E got lucky this week because I made it twice. Since it’s always been one of those “throw in a little this and a little that until it tastes good” dishes, I didn’t have exact ingredient amounts, so I had to play with the recipe a bit to get to where it would work without my giving you vague instructions like “If it looks too dry, add more milk” or “Keep adding garlic until you repel vampires.” There’s still a little of that, but if you follow the basic recipe, you should come out with pasta and vegetables that are coated in a light, flavorful sauce that tastes surprisingly rich for being so low in fat. It’s one of those “home-cooking” dishes that’s good enough to serve to company.
The recipe below uses a full pound of pasta and makes a lot; besides being hearty eaters, my family likes to have leftovers to fight over for the next day or two. If you’re cooking for one or two, you may want to make half a recipe, so I’ve made that easy for you by including a printer page for the 4-servings version of the recipe.
Also, don’t miss the note on how to make this a Ridiculously Easy recipe using frozen vegetables, which, truth be told, is how I usually make it (and how it was made in the two photos above).
Pasta and Vegetables with White Sauce
- 1 pound whole wheat rotini pasta or gluten-free pasta
- 1 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas or 1 can, rinsed and drained
- 1 head broccoli about 1 pound, cut into small florets and stems reserved for another use
- 1 head cauliflower about 1 pound, cut into florets
- 2 cups plain unsweetened soy milk or other non-dairy milk
- 6 cloves garlic peeled and pressed
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or to taste
- generous grating of black pepper
- 5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch or potato starch
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt or salt-free seasoning or to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook the pasta according to instructions on package. About a minute before it's done, add the chickpeas and cook briefly to heat them through. When the pasta is al dente, scoop out and set aside a cup of the cooking water. Then drain the pasta well and return to the pot or a large serving bowl.
- While the pasta is cooking, steam the vegetables until just tender. Add them to the pasta.
- While the pasta and the vegetables are cooking, make the sauce: combine in a medium saucepan the soy milk, garlic, herbs, and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes or until pasta is done. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and the nutritional yeast. Stir the starch into 1/4 cup of cool water and add it to the sauce, stirring well. Increase heat and cook until the sauce boils and thickens slightly. Check seasonings and add salt to taste.
- Pour the sauce over the pasta and vegetables and stir gently to coat. If the pasta needs more moisture, add a little of the reserved pasta water. Sprinkle with extra red pepper flakes if desired and serve immediately.
Nutritional info is approximate.
Lori LynnMarch 21, 2012 at 12:39 pm
This looks great and simple. I want to try it soon, but I don’t quite understand the directions. Are the pasta and the veggies cooked together? At what point? Please clarify.
Susan VoisinMarch 21, 2012 at 12:45 pm
In the general directions, they are cooked separately. You can steam the vegetables any way you like–I used a stovetop steamer but you could also do them in a microwave. In the variation using frozen vegetables, you add the veggies to the pasta water during the last few minutes of cooking. That works better for frozen vegetables than for fresh ones since frozen veggies are already partially cooked.
shirleyMarch 21, 2012 at 12:59 pm
yummy yummy yummy, pasta, chickpeas and vegetables I’m in and may actually do this tonight.
Livie248March 21, 2012 at 1:30 pm
I have tried or bought nutritional yeast. Does anyone have suggestions about preferred brands, brands to avoid etc….. Thanks!
Trf42658March 21, 2012 at 3:24 pm
I agree. So far I haven’t fount any I really like.
moonwatcherMarch 21, 2012 at 7:11 pm
This looks ymmy, Susan, and homey. 🙂 I will try it with almond milk sometime.
Susan VoisinMarch 21, 2012 at 7:50 pm
Check out my post on nutritional yeast: https://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2011/10/what-the-heck-is-nutritional-yeast.html
The brand I use is Red Star.
Frugal Vegan MomMarch 21, 2012 at 2:28 pm
Bookmarking this recipe, thanks for posting these easy family favorites, I’m not much of a cook to begin with, so it’s exactly the kind of recipes I need!
Kale CrusadersMarch 21, 2012 at 3:50 pm
A fun take on my standard pasta + chickpeas + veggies dinner. Thanks for the inspiration!
Like you, I *try* to limit pasta dinners to once a week.
RebekahMarch 21, 2012 at 4:22 pm
This looks like exactly the kind of recipe I love. It’s so simple, uses things I already have on hand, and has such perfect flavors…I can already taste it. I’m picturing it with spaghetti squash or over brown rice as well!
Alexandria LewisMarch 21, 2012 at 4:56 pm
This is great and I am sure it will become a favorite in my house as well.
Cat ~ The Verdant LifeMarch 21, 2012 at 6:22 pm
What an easy, yummy recipe. I love recipes like this for using up whatever veggies are languishing in my fridge. And I’m right there with your daughter; pastaholics unite!
Art MoskowitzMarch 21, 2012 at 6:38 pm
Susan, What does the nutritional yeast do for this and other recipes. I’d rather not use the corn/potato starch. Substitute?
Susan VoisinMarch 21, 2012 at 6:49 pm
The nutritional yeast adds depth of flavor without adding salt. You can leave it out, but it tastes better with it. As for the starch, you could also leave that out and have a slightly thinner sauce. Another option might be to cook it a little longer after adding the pasta water so that it reduces a little.
Susan VoisinMarch 21, 2012 at 7:51 pm
Forgot to mention, check out my post on nutritional yeast for more info: https://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2011/10/what-the-heck-is-nutritional-yeast.html
JanineMarch 21, 2012 at 7:57 pm
This is such homey food goodness, I love it and can see why it’s popular in your home. I’m only starting to familiarize myself with some different uses for nutritional yeast, so thanks for sharing!
AlexMarch 23, 2012 at 11:29 pm
You should try ‘sunny mushroom nuggets’ recipe from ‘Healhty Happy Life’, they are so good and contain oodles of nutri. yeast.
TristenMarch 21, 2012 at 9:10 pm
I was so happy to get this recipe today! I was wondering what to make tonight and this was it! I didn’t have rotini pasta so I broke up the whole wheat spaghetti in the pantry and used it instead. I added some spinach, carrots and tomatoes because I had them to use. It was great! Loved the sauce. The kids eat it too 🙂 and I have left overs for lunch tomorrow. Thanks!
Jill PrincehouseMarch 22, 2012 at 12:35 am
Susan: I’ve been making a similar version of this except with more variety of veggies and with tomato sauce. It never dawned on me to make it with a light white sauce. This looks delicious. We’re traveling until Friday-and this will be our Friday dinner. It’s so nice that you do all this work for us and keep us trying new things. Hearty thanks!
ArchanaMarch 22, 2012 at 3:12 am
our favourite too.
MelMarch 22, 2012 at 4:00 am
This sounds really delicious, just my type of flavours! I’m bookmarking this to try soon.
laloofahMarch 22, 2012 at 7:54 am
E, you’re my kinda girl! 🙂 I love pasta too – having an Italian mother, it’s my main comfort food and I love it mixed with veggies (and with “nooch.”) I imagine the white sauce takes it to a new comfort level and can’t wait to try it! Into my Recipe Box it goes!
VeganCouchPotatoMarch 22, 2012 at 12:44 pm
That looks like a dish that I can make! Looks like pasta and veggies are going to be a new staple food for me 🙂
JaredMarch 22, 2012 at 3:46 pm
This looks great! I am one for the “little of this” or “swap that out for what you may have on hand” recipes. Flexibility in the kitchen saves time and money for me! Thanks for another promising recipe, Susan.
BrendaMarch 22, 2012 at 4:59 pm
Oh YUM!! I made this tonight, and cannot get over how “ridiculously easy” it is!! I just LOVE it!! I used the frozen veggies (I can get one pound bags that are just broccoli and cauliflower). The boil in the water at the same time as the pasta is just too, too wonderful!!
I’m a big eater, but still halved this, and will easily get 4 servings out of it. Not being a big cauliflower lover, but knowing how good it is for me, I put most of the cauliflower chunks (once they were cooked) into the blender with the rest of the sauce ingredients, and voila …. still getting my cauliflower without knowing it!!
I think I’m going to increase the garlic by at least 1 more clove (for half a recipe), and add in some onion as well.
Susan … you’re inspired and inspiring!!
Susan VoisinMarch 22, 2012 at 10:08 pm
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Your pictures look terrific!
reluctant cookMarch 22, 2012 at 8:42 pm
Pasta and Vegetables with White Sauce could be called Vegi Pasta Blanc. Jill Princeton’s version would then become Vegi Pasta Rouge. Definitely a recipe to try.
Megan MillerMarch 22, 2012 at 9:45 pm
I made this for dinner and it turned out really good. I found that I liked the vegetables in the sauce so much I might just make veggies and sauce and forget the noodles next time 🙂 Thanks for another great recipe
JulieMarch 23, 2012 at 6:06 pm
I just made this with brown rice instead of the pasta and it was great. My family loves pasta and we had it the last few days in a row so I wanted to use something else. I made the sauce exactly as you have it but I mixed in about six cups of cooked rice, 12 oz of roasted broccoli (that’s all I had), and about 6 oz. of roasted asparagas (picked from my garden today)! What a great meal and all I used was the pot to make the sauce and a cookie sheet to roast the veggies! Thank you!
YochiMarch 24, 2012 at 9:03 am
Isn’t there a mistake in tagging the recipe as “soy free” while the white-sauce is made of soy-milk?
Susan VoisinMarch 24, 2012 at 10:07 am
It says “soy milk or other non-dairy milk.”
MJMarch 24, 2012 at 11:11 am
How about calling it Generation-Buster Pasta! 😉 Will be making it once my leftovers are gone.
heidiMarch 24, 2012 at 8:33 pm
Since I’m watching calories, I’m going to try subbing spaghetti squash or spiralized zucchini in place of the pasta; I’ll bet it will still be yummy! Thanks, Susan, for the terrific job you do in helping us to prepare delicious, healthy meals (my hubby thanks you, too 🙂
Richa@HobbyandMoreMarch 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm
Thats a simple and beautiful pasta. would love it on one of the weekdays.
MiriamMarch 25, 2012 at 6:41 pm
Looks yummy! Can’t wait to try.
MarshaMarch 25, 2012 at 8:07 pm
Pasta with all the vegetables and white sauce!
CarolynMarch 26, 2012 at 8:18 pm
This is our dinner tonight. It made a HUGE amount! WOW! It’s just me and the three kids while my husband is out of town, so we’ll be eating this for lunch for a while. It was good!
urban veganMarch 28, 2012 at 6:57 am
Looks delish, Susan!
CharissaMarch 28, 2012 at 9:27 am
I made this for dinner using almond milk and it was phenomenal! You’re recipes never disappoint Susan thank you for all you do!
FionaMarch 28, 2012 at 8:57 pm
I just made this for dinner for my family with almond milk instead of soymilk and kidney beans instead of chickpeas. We liked that there were a lot of veggies (we used your R.E. version) and I liked how easy and healthy it was, but the older folks found it a bit spicy and we all found it a bit bland. I think I may make it again but I think I will try your suggestions for making it zestier and perhaps replace some of the milk with a cashew sauce, since I’m not concerned about fat.
VegetariansMarch 29, 2012 at 10:20 pm
This recipe is interesting. Do you recommend any substitute when I don’t have a nutritional yeast? Or can I just leave that ingredient out? Thanks!
Susan VoisinMarch 29, 2012 at 10:29 pm
It just adds flavor. You can leave it out, though it might be a little bland.
elizabethMarch 30, 2012 at 11:43 am
Is arrowroot an okay sub for the cornstarch? What kind of salt or salt-free seasoning do you usually use for this?
Susan VoisinMarch 30, 2012 at 11:54 am
Arrowroot should be fine; it usually takes less of it, but this sauce is only lightly thickened, so a little extra thickening will be good. As for salt, I’m not salt-free myself, so I use regular iodized salt in this, but if you have a salt-free blend that you like that will complement the seasonings, then you can use it.
elizabethMarch 30, 2012 at 12:04 pm
Thank you, I’ll try salt, I haven’t found an all-purpose salt free blend that I like anyway. I’m really enjoying your raisin dressing, I’ll be making it a lot. Last night I had a spinach salad with chopped apples, carrots, spicy tofu, http://www.dailygarnish.com/2012/03/crispy-blackened-tofu.html, and some wheat berries. All I need is some Vulcan Salt!
A Fan!April 5, 2012 at 3:37 pm
I made this last night and my family loved it. I will definitely make it again! I’ve tred four of your recipes so far and they were all great. I’m pretty new to nutrition eating/cooking; as I browsed your site I saw mention of a cookbook? Do you have it available yet?
A Fan!April 5, 2012 at 3:38 pm
Whoops, meant ‘nutrarian’ not ‘nutrition’.
judykApril 8, 2012 at 6:36 pm
I made this last night for Easter dinner tonight…..I used Asparagus & Sun-dried tomatoes…letting it sit over night really thickened up the sauce ….it was delicious…REALLY good and really easy!
jessrApril 9, 2012 at 6:43 pm
Made this tonight and loved it! Blended a block of silken tofu into the sauce (using a hand blender) to give a bit extra sauce + creaminess. Also added some wasabi powder for a surprise kick. Really loved it. Thanks for the concept of “ridiculously easy” using frozen veggies – really does save a TON of time!
ThistlechickApril 11, 2012 at 12:17 pm
Hi Susan, Love your recipes! Thank you soooo much for sharing your wonderful recipes and the time you put into your blog. Many folks (unknowingly) will automatically use soy milk, not realizing that all soy is genetically modified, when there are so many better alternatives today, and Coconut milk is sooo scrumptious in desert and sauce recipes!
Susan VoisinApril 11, 2012 at 12:29 pm
From what I’ve read, organic soy is not genetically modified. Do you have a source that says it is?
LJApril 12, 2012 at 6:50 pm
This one is a huge favorite with my boyfriend and me. I made it for the first time just a couple weeks ago, and have already made it a few more with some variations. GREAT way to use up veggies left over in the fridge! Thank you! It’s just as good cold the next day for lunch!
LainaApril 28, 2012 at 10:39 pm
Wasn’t feeling well and this looked easy and delicious ……….it was on both counts.
Thanks again for another winner. I look forward to rising to the challenge of creating some variations or keeping it the same. Next time I will add more garlic.
Even dh said it was good 🙂 !