One of my biggest apprehensions when I considered adapting to a vegan, sugar free, gluten and yeast free diet last summer, was that whatever I could eat, was going to be downright sad (poor choice of emotions but very real for me). Food is an incredibly emotional thing for most people and to all of a sudden have serious food boundaries and to cut out the things I most love, was not comfortable. Spoiler alert: my considerations to adapt to the above mentioned diet very quickly became a plan and that plan is now my lifestyle, so while yes, it was hard and a little sad to massively overhaul my eating habits, it has been worth every single bite of lentils and kale (ha!).

All that to say, I feel a little bit naughty when I find a recipe I can enjoy (vegan, sugar free, gluten, and yeast free) and it tastes good. Like REALLY good. Many of the recipes we frequently use in our rolodex of meals are things we’ve adapted to fit our needs and tastes, and that’s been one of the best parts about this lifestyle. There are so many options and possibilities if you take the time to create them. This is one of those recipes adapted from a cashew cream frequently used in Oh She Glows and a sun dried tomato sauce I’ve been making for years. Add in fresh basil, festive heart shaped noodles, and you’re all set for a sweet and delicious Valentine’s Day dinner.

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups dry pasta (I used heart shaped noodles from Williams Sonoma but I spotted a similar pack at Aldi last week for $1.99 which is a steal! I also realize these heart shaped noodles are not gluten and yeast free. If you did want to avoid those things you could try brown rice pasta with this recipe but for the sake of pleasing my family and having the sauce best compliment the noodles, I went with the festive noodles and called it good).

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste (plus more if you want a more reddish color to your sauce)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 cup vegetable broth (or less for a thicker sauce)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup vegetable broth

1/4 cup grated vegan parmesan cheese
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Directions

1. To make the cashew cream, soak your cashews in water overnight OR boil for 10 to 15 minutes until they are very tender. In a blender like a Vitamix blend together the soaked cashews and vegetable broth until smooth and creamy. Scrape the cream out of the blender into a bowl and place aside. Meanwhile heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, and in a separate saucepan begin boiling your water to cook the pasta.

2. While the pasta cooks, add the garlic and sun dried tomatoes to the olive oil. Sautee for a minute until fragrant and golden; careful not to burn the garlic because that can happen fast. Add in the onion powder, cashew cream, tomato paste, and cup of vegetable broth. Mix well to break up the cashew cream and tomato paste. Combine all ingredients. Mixture will begin to bubble so stir consistently. Stir in basil. Season with salt and pepper.

3. When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain, and add in the hot noodles to the sauce mixture and fold in gently until combined (‘shape’ noodles are more delicate than most standard noodles and will break their shape if folded in with force). Serve immediately as this tastes best when hot. Garnish with extra fresh chopped basil and a handful of chopped cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle fresh vegan parmesan over the top of the dish. Enjoy immediately!

And if you need inspiration on how to set you table this year, check out this post from yesterday!

Tomorrow is my final Valentine’s Day post for the week and it’s also the day the Le Papier Studio giveaway goes out to our mailing list subscribers! If you want to join in to win a beautiful silhouette keepsake necklace (I haven’t taken mine off since Christmas morning) you can join the list here to enter. All details will be sent to those on the list! I’ll see you back here tomorrow but in the meantime, what’s your favorite dish to make or enjoy for Valentine’s Day? I’d love to know below. Xoxo

All photographs by Samantha James Photography.