Spaghetti with Red ‘Pesto’ Sauce

I made this recipe from Leah Leneman’s Vegan Cooking for One the other night, and I was really pleasantly surprised with it.  While Leneman suggests it as a main meal, both Red and I agreed that it wasn’t quite substantial enough as a main but that it was simple and easy enough to justify making it as part of a component meal.  You see, usually I’m anti-component meal because I’m lazy on weekdays and the idea of orchestrating more than one dish with multiple ingredients and steps doesn’t appeal.  And Red is anti-component meal because it requires him to do more washing up at the end of the night.

Anyway, so like I was saying, this was tasty and simple.  I will definitely make it again in the future alongside a component protein dish.

Also, I put pesto in quotes above because the recipe isn’t actually a pesto at all, as it doesn’t use pine  nuts or real parmesan.  But its substitutes are perfectly tasty.  And, really, it’s close enough.  Plus, I’m more likely to have almonds in my pantry than pine nuts.  Especially since I would probably only use pine nuts if I bought them for making pestos.  And I’m not known for my pestos or anything…
Spaghetti with Red Pesto Sauce


  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 servings’ worth of dried wholewheat pasta
  • 2 spring onions, chopped roughly
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 sundried tomatoes in oil (or soaked in boiling water and drained if dried)
  • 30 g toasted slivered almonds
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp vegan parmesan
  • 1 tbsp water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh chopped basil, to garnish

[Yields 2 side servings]

Step One Deseed and halve the red pepper.  Place under a hot grill and cook until well charred.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Step Two Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions.

Step Three Once the red pepper has cooled sufficiently, rub off its skin with your fingers and then chop it roughly.  Add all of the ingredients (excepting the cooking pasta, obviously) to a food processor or blender.  Blend thoroughly.

Step Four Drain the spaghetti when it’s finished cooking and return it to the pot.  Chuck the pesto sauce you just made on top of the spaghetti.  Mix the pesto with the spaghetti over the lowest heat on the hob until everything is well combined.



Spaghetti and Beanballs with Charred Red Pepper Sauce

I have made the beanballs from Veganomicon a couple times now, and it wasn’t until dinner tonight that I was convinced that they’d go into my recipe arsenal.  I’ve stayed pretty close to the original recipe, but I’ve made some changes to ingredients and preparation methods and have decided that they turn out best cooked they way I made them tonight.  Also, the charred red pepper tomato sauce complemented the taste of the beanballs quite well.  Overall, tonight’s dinner got top marks.

beanballs and red pepper sauce

I’ve outsourced the photo-taking responsibilities to Red, since he just got a new digital SLR.  He was unaware that the focal point of the dinner was, in fact, the beanballs, so they’re sort of marginalised in the pic above.  Put your pitchforks away; he’s learning.


  • 1 tin kidney beans, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest (or a squeeze of lemon juice)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp HP sauce (or steak sauce)
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • porridge oats as needed to firm up the mixture whilst kneading (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp oil

Step One Preheat the oven to 190C.  Mash the kidney beans with a potato masher until all beans have been smashed.  The beans should not be completely smooth, though.  There should still be identifiable kidney bean parts (mostly the skins).

Step Two Add the rest of the ingredients except the oats.  Mix with a fork.  Add oats little by little with one hand while combining and kneading the mixture with the other.  Continue adding oats and kneading until the mixture is soft but firm and holds together.

Step Three Form walnut-sized balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and flip the beanballs over.  Put back in the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve with a marinara sauce over pasta or in some bread as a beanball sub sandwich.

And now for the Charred Red Pepper Sauce.


  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 1 red pepper, charred and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dry basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • a zig of agave nectar (about 1/4-1/2 tsp)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped roughly

Step One Hold the red pepper over a gas hob with some tongs to char the outsides a bit.  You can also do this in the oven by placing the pepper on a baking sheet under the grill.  Don’t blacken it too much.  Also, you can just skip this step completely if you want.  Just make sure you fry the red pepper a bit longer than you would otherwise in step two.

Step Two Heat the oil in a small-to-medium-sized pot and cook the onions for 4-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.  Add the red pepper and cook for 1 more minute.

Step Three Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot except the fresh chopped basil.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  As soon as the sauce has come to heat, lower to a simmer and cover the pot.  Simmer over the lowest heat setting for 10-15 minutes.  Stir the fresh basil in through the mixture at the very end of the cooking time and remove from the heat.  Serve over pasta.

Mmm o’clock.