Oh My Garlic — I'm Drooling Over Alex Guarnaschelli's Easy Plant-Based Pasta Recipes
If you've ever tried "Veganuary," you've probably been thinking up ways to make TikTok's baked feta pasta recipe even more friendly for a plant-based diet. To encourage mindful and sustainable plant-based eating, Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli — who's been sharing cooking tips on her TikTok — created three plant-based pasta recipes for beginners that are definitely giving us some major dinner inspiration. "I know that if I have a piece of beef or I have a potato, I can make 70 potato dishes and 70 beef dishes," Chef Alex told POPSUGAR. "I'd like to see that versatility comfortably applied on mass with things like lentils."
"Make a list of the few things you like already, and start with that.
For anyone not sure where to get started when going plant-based, Chef Alex suggests using what's in your fridge and sticking to what you like. "Do you like squash in the winter?" she asks. "Do you like tomatoes? Do you like artichokes? Do you like mushrooms? What do you like? . . . Make a list of the few things you like already, and start with that and add something like some lentils, some chickpeas, some say, thyme, some chopped up walnuts, some almond butter; add one thing that maybe you don't cook with a lot that adds that protein and that satiety to vegetables you love."
At home, the Iron Chef cooks up a lot of legumes, lentils, and healthy sheet pan dinners to cut back on dishes. "I never get sick of cooking, ever," she said. "I really get sick of cleaning up and doing dishes. That's what I just cannot deal with anymore." Still, she gets creative with different kitchen appliances, using blenders to whip up creative recipes for TikTok and even baking gooey brownies in the slow cooker.
Chef Alex's pasta recipes include a 10-minute buttered, herbed elbow pasta, stovetop penne with winter vegetables, and rotini with clams, garlic, and fresh parsley, made with ZENB pasta. The gluten-free, vegan noodles are entirely made from yellow peas, skin included, which have a lower carbon footprint and use less water and fertilizer to grow than wheat crops. The brand itself seeks to reduce food waste by composting and even makes its pasta boxes out of 100-percent recyclable materials. In addition to being good for the earth, the yellow pea pasta has the same texture as traditional pasta. "Taste is 90 percent of what we're looking for, but it's also the texture," she said. "You wouldn't buy a potato chip that isn't crunchy and you wouldn't buy pasta that isn't al dente when you eat it."
Take a closer look at all of Chef Alex's favorite plant-based recipes ahead. And, if you're down for a plant-based cooking demo, you can also enter the ZENB sweepstakes to win a private (virtual) cooking class with the Food Network star, plus an autographed copy of her newest cookbook Cook With Me, and a one-year supply of pasta.
Alex Guarnaschelli's 10-Minute Buttered, Herbed Plant-Based Elbow Pasta
1 box (12 ounces) ZENB Elbow Pasta
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, sliced
1 large clove garlic, grated
12 sprigs flat leaf parsley, stemmed and chopped
8 sprigs basil (about 2/3 cup) stemmed and chopped
1 teaspoon dry oregano
Zest and juice from 1 small lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
- The Pasta: In a large pot, bring four quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add a generous amount of salt. (The pasta water should taste like sea water.)
- Add the Elbow noodles to the pot and stir so it doesn't stick to the bottom as it cooks. Cook the pasta until "al dente," about 6-8 minutes, and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining the rest in a colander.
- The Sauce: While the pasta is cooking, combine the butter, garlic, parsley, basil, dry oregano, and lemon zest in a large bowl.
- Next, add the cooked pasta and pasta water to the bowl and toss vigorously with two large spoons to coat the pasta, allowing the butter to melt and create a beautiful herb sauce for the pasta.
- Sprinkle with the lemon juice and cracked black pepper. Taste for seasoning and enjoy!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Alex Guarnaschelli's Plant-Based Rotini Pasta With Clams, Garlic, and Fresh Parsley
36 Littleneck or Manila clams, (about 3 pounds, thoroughly cleaned)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 box (12 ounces) ZENB Rotini Pasta
12 sprigs (about 3/4 cup) flat-leaf parsley leaves, stemmed
- The Clams: Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the clams in a single layer with the white wine vinegar and bay leaf and cook until the clams open, about 5-8 minutes. (Be patient.)
- Use a pair of metal tongs to remove the clams as they open and reserve the cooked clams in a large bowl.
- Shell all but about 16 of the clams and strain the clam cooking liquid through a fine mesh sieve. Reserve the liquid and discard the bay leaf.
- The Sauce: In a large skillet, combine the butter and garlic with a pinch salt over medium heat until the garlic becomes translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the cherry tomatoes and simmer over medium low heat until they break down a little, about 3-5 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
- The Pasta: In a large pot, bring four quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add a generous amount of salt. (Again, the pasta water should taste like sea water.)
- Add the Rotini pasta to the pot and stir so it doesn't stick to the bottom as it cooks. Cook the pasta until "al dente," chewy but not hard or raw tasting, about 6-8 minutes.
- Reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water just in case and drain the rest in a colander.
- Next, add the Rotini, parsley, and all of the clams and reserved clam liquid to the sauce. If the dish needs a little more liquid, stir in some of the reserved pasta water. Taste for seasoning.
- Spoon the pasta with some of the clams and sauce into individual serving bowls. Top each with a few of the clams that are still in the shells for presentation and enjoy!
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Alex Guarnaschelli's Stovetop Plant-Based Penne Pasta With Winter Vegetables
Note: "You can use other winter vegetables like celery root, fennel, or radishes here as well. You should aim for about 1-1/2 to 2 cups of each vegetable cut up to start the dish."
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12-15 sage leaves, stemmed
1 large turnip, peeled & cut into 2-inch cubes
1 small head rutabaga, peeled & cut into 2-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 large carrot, peeled & cut into 1/4-inch rounds
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 box ZENB Penne Pasta
2/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- The Vegetables: Begin by heating a large skillet over medium heat and adding the extra-virgin olive oil. When it begins to smoke lightly, shut off the heat and add the sage leaves.
- Stir the sage leaves to coat with the oil and cook, stirring constantly, until the sage pales slightly in color and gets a little crisp, about 2-3 minutes.
- When the leaves are done, use a slotted spoon to remove the them. Season the sage with salt and allow them to cool.
- In the same pan, add the turnip and rutabaga. Season the mixture with salt, red pepper flakes and cook over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the vegetables start to soften and brown slightly, about 5-8 minutes.
- Add 1/2 cup water and the carrots to the same pan. Continue cooking for 8-10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender when pierced with the tip of a small knife.
- Sprinkle the vegetables with the red wine vinegar and taste for seasoning.
- The Pasta: In a large pot, bring four quarts of water to a rolling boil, adding a generous amount of salt.
- Add the Penne pasta to the pot and stir so it doesn't stick to the bottom as it cooks. Cook the pasta until "al dente," about 6-8 minutes, and drain in a colander. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid just in case.
- In the pot where you cooked the pasta, toss the sauce with the hot pasta and stir in the cheese. Taste for seasoning and add some of the pasta water if the sauce is too thick or dry.
- Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl and top with the sage leaves and a touch more cheese, if desired. Enjoy!
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes