How are you feeling about cooking these days? It’s back to school season, and while I don’t have any (non-fur) children to wrangle and am not heading back to school myself, there’s something about this time that just feels…busy.
And while cooking never falls completely off my radar (it would be pretty concerning for my livelihood if it did…) I’m definitely leaning toward meals that can be made quickly and easily with very little muss and almost no fuss. I’ve also been turning to meal prep more and that’s been helpful. Abigail and I are teaching the final installment of our summer meal prep class series next Sunday and I’m so excited to have my fridge stocked afterward. There are only three spots left, so if you’d like to join us, grab your spot ASAP.
And have you seen my latest YouTube video? It’s a week of eating centered around a supremely tasty and flexible meal prep that I remix into new dishes all week long. Meal prep and speedy cooking are definitely top of mind!
And when I need something to come together with ease and speed, I find myself turning again and again to one of my ride-or-die kitchen appliances…
My high-speed Vitamix blender! I’m extremely choosy about which items get added to my cooking arsenal— I truly hate to waste money and if you can believe it, I’m even more passionate about keeping my counter space as free and clear of clutter as possible. I don’t even own a toaster! But when I’m asked about which appliances I think are worth it, my blender lands at the very top of the list.
Is it expensive? Extremely so. Do I think there are alternatives that work just as well out there? Maybe…I haven’t found one. And do I think you need this particular blender? No, your kitchen and financial priorities are unique, so I would absolutely never tell you to purchase an item that didn’t fit into your life in either of those categories.
That said, this is a gadget that gets play in my kitchen almost every day, I’ve had mine for about five years and it’s still going just as strong as the day it arrived, and it’s also the brand we used in culinary school and in both the professional kitchens I’ve had the privilege spending time in. It performs leaps and bounds better than any other alternative I’ve ever used. The best example of how well it works I can think of: ever made a recipe that called for blending soaked cashews? That’s because most blenders can’t handle a raw cashew before it’s been soaked to soften it. This one, though, absolutely can!
Above all else, I’ve been impressed with the versatility of this tool. I use my beloved blender for so many things— puréed soups, smoothies, juices, milling my own oat flour, making pestos and salsa verdes, and the recipes we’re here for today: pasta sauces!
I’m giving you two easy options, both of which are great year round and both work totally fine with a blender that’s not as high-powered as a Vitamix. So next time you encounter the dreaded *what’s for dinner?* moment, get thee to your blender and make one of these sauces!
If you’re headed into fall and craving a festive pasta, the first sauce might just scratch that itch. And if you’re still soaking up the last of summer or are an Aussie heading into your springtime, option two might be a better fit for you! Either way, you can’t go wrong—alright I’ll stop yammering on…let’s talk pasta!
Penne with Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Sage Sauce
12oz. box of penne or short pasta of choice
1 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin purée
½ cup raw cashews (see note)
½ cup plain almond or oat milk
2 sprigs fresh sage, stems removed
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp unseasoned rice vinegar
½ tsp sea salt, plus more
Freshly cracked black pepper
Cook penne to al dente per package instructions.
Meanwhile, combine pumpkin purée, cashews, milk, 3-4 leaves sage, nutritional yeast, rice vinegar, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper in your blender. Blend on high until the consistency is very smooth.
Transfer the sauce to a small pot and heat over medium heat on the stove until it’s lightly simmering. Upon serving, toss the pasta with the sauce and top with additional sage leaves for garnish.
Note: if you have a very high powered blender (like a Vitamix), you can add your cashews in raw. If your blender isn’t quite as strong, plan ahead and soak your cashews either overnight in a quart of water, or by bringing a quart of water to a boil, adding the cashews, turning off the heat, and allowing them to soak 1-2 hours.
Blended Feta Pasta
If you’re a visual learner and want to watch me make this recipe, you can take a peek at this fun reel :)
1lb short pasta of choice (I usually go for penne).
8oz. feta (crumbled if your blender isn’t super high powered)
10oz. marinated sun dried tomatoes, drained of their marinade
Crushed red pepper (measure that with your heart! I do about 1/2 tsp)
Cook pasta to al dente per package instructions in well-salted water. Strain but reserve 1.5 cups pasta water and add the pasta back to the pot you cooked it in and set aside while you…
Add feta, tomatoes, and crushed red pepper to your blender. Blend with pasta water until completely smooth.
Pour the sauce over the pasta with the reserved pasta water, turn the heat on to medium low and stir until everything is well-coated and the pasta and sauce are warmed through. Garnish with black pepper and parm if ya want and SERVE IT UP!
Note: if you forgot to reserve the pasta water, don’t sweat it! We’ve all been there. Just use some tap water and a dash of extra salt and it’ll be totally fine.
I’m curious, which of these pasta sauces sounds better to you? I love both equally, but must say I’m definitely in that autumnal state of mind and made the pumpkin sage sauce last week. So yummy! Of course, keep me posted about what’s going on in your kitchen. If you make one of these sauces or simply want to chat cooking stuff, feel free to email me back by replying directly to this note, shoot me a DM or tag me over on Instagram.
Okay, as always, wishing you a well-fed week ahead!
With love and a tip of my chef’s hat,