No, this isn’t some kind of joke, and you don’t have to be a vegetarian to love what’s going on here. Chopped-up cauliflower and mushrooms provide comparable richness and texture to what you usually get from the classic long-cooked ground meat sauce.
adapted from Bon Appétit.
TO MAKE 1 CUP VEGAN PARMESAN, pulse 3/4 cups raw cashews, 3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast, 3/4 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 tsp garlic powder in a food processor until a sandy texture is achieved.
- 12 ounces mushrooms, such as shiitake or crimini, stems removed
- 1 medium head of cauliflower (about 2¼ lb.), broken into florets
- ¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted plant-based butter, divided
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 chile, such as serrano, Holland, or Fresno, thinly sliced, or ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 Tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
- ⅓ cup double-concentrated tomato paste (or 2/3 cup regular tomato paste)
- optional: 1 cup dry red wine
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound rigatoni
- 2-3 cups tomato sauce
- 2 ounces finely vegan Parmesan (about 1 cup), plus more for serving
- 3 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 1 lemon
- Heat ¼ cup oil and 2 Tbsp. butter in a large heavy pot over medium-high. Pulse onions in a food processor until finely chopped. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is very soft and golden brown, 6–8 minutes.
- Pulse mushrooms in a food processor until finely chopped. Once the onions are ready, add 2 Tbsp. oil to pot. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they release their water and begin to turn golden brown, 8-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, pulse cauliflower in food processor until pieces are about the size of a grain of rice (some smaller and some larger ones are fine).
- Add garlic, chile, and rosemary to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is softened and mixture is very fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until paste is slightly darkened, about 2 minutes. Add cauliflower and cook, yes, still stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is cooked down slightly and begins to stick to bottom of pot, 8-10 minutes. Keep warm over low heat.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until almost al dente, about 1 minute less than package directions.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer pasta to pot with sauce. Add 1 cup vegan Parmesan, remaining 2 Tbsp. butter, and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally and adding tomato sauce as needed to bring more moisture, until pasta is al dente and sauce is clinging to pasta, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt (it’ll probably need another pinch or two). Finely zest lemon over pasta and toss once more.
- Divide pasta among bowls. Top with more vegan Parmesan and parsley, then drizzle with oil.