It’s good to be saucy and a great vodka sauce is something that I’ve missed since giving up dairy many years ago. Last week I bought a jar of traditional vodka sauce to toss with pasta when I needed a quick dinner for my kids. Honestly, it wasn’t what I intended to grab, but I was in a hurry and by the time I was unbagging the groceries on my kitchen table it was too late to change. The good news was that my boys loved the tangy tomato sauce and I confess that it smelled heavenly while it was simmering on the stove. Not being able to eat sauce like that with the cream and cheese isn’t frustrating anymore, but it was enough to get me started with a trial pot of vegan vodka sauce.
I like the result and my boys proclaimed it “pretty darn good” compared to the jarred version they had last week. The difference, according to them, is that my version is “cheesier.” So, next time, I might adjust the nutritional yeast down a bit for them. I found the flavor to be tangy and well rounded, in large part, in my opinion, from the Shiraz rather than the vodka. Perhaps if you experiment with tomato paste or another tomato product rather than using fresh tomato you can get a similar depth without the Shiraz. Let me know if you play around with this one. In the meantime, enjoy!
Vegan Tomato Vodka Sauce
(yields 3-5 cups of sauce depending on the size of your tomatoes and how much liquid you add)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, minced (approx 1 cup of veg)
4 cloves garlic
4 medium carrots, peeled
4 large tomatoes
Pinch of salt and pinch of pepper
1 sprig fresh basil or 1 tsp dried basil
¼ cup vodka
¼ cup red wine (I used a gorgeous 2009 Layer Cake Shiraz)
½ cup raw cashews
½ cup nutritional yeast
½ – 1 cup almond milk, as needed to thin sauce
How to stir the pot:
- Let’s get our olive oil hot in a good size skillet. Toss in the onions, salt, pepper and basil and give everything a stir to coat them with the olive oil. We want the onions to get soft but not brown, so adjust your heat accordingly.
- While the onions are sweating pull out your Vitamix or food processor. Put the tomato, carrot, garlic, nutritional yeast and cashews right in and blend them on low for a few seconds before blitzing them into a smooth liquid. Set this mixture aside for a moment so we can bathe the onions.
- At this point, the onions should be tender and golden. Carefully pour the vodka and red wine into the pan and use a nice wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan, removing any and all flavorful golden goodness from the bottom of the pan before we continue.
- Add the tomato/carrot liquid to the pot and stir. Turn the heat down to low, cover the pot and let everything simmer for 15 minutes.
- Remove the lid and stir your sauce. It should smell heavenly and be a soft orange color. If the sauce has thickened too much, add anywhere between ½ and 1 cup of almond milk to get a thinner consistency. Give another stir and taste. Adjust salt and pepper if necessary. Serve over your favorite pasta, rice or veg. I served this batch over ravioli for my boys and over greens and raw carrot ribbons for me. YUM!