One of my favourite dishes to eat at Zizzi before I became vegan was their Strozzapretti Pesto Rosso. Pieces of chicken were tossed through the pasta, and the sauce was mildly spicy. Of course, this is off the menu for me now and I don’t mind tucking into Lentil Bolognese now and again when we venture into the chain as a vegan. I did wonder whether I could replicate the dish at home and veganise it.
After discovering Oumph’s great meat replacement called ‘The Chunk’ I thought this would work well in a vegan version of the dish. A traditional pesto would feature Parmesan, which isn’t even vegetarian if using the authentic ingredient, and I didn’t have a dairy free alternative at home I could use. Instead I used Nutritional Yeast, or ‘nooch’ as it is affectionately termed in the vegan community, to give it that cheesy flavour.
I didn’t stick rigidly to the Zizzi dish and used dried Spirali as that’s what I had in the cupboard. As someone who tries to be canny with their store cupboard ingredients I’d say use whatever pasta you have to hand when recreating the recipe. The sauce is unctuous enough to coat it well.
For those who are time pressed you could always use a jar of Sacla’s Red Pesto, pictured above, which is vegan-friendly. I personally don’t think you can beat homemade, but I am known to use these jars when I’ve been at work and am time pushed.
Vegan Oumph Pesto Rosso
1/2 Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
2 Red Peppers, roughly chopped
4 Garlic Cloves, peeled
2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
Handful of Basil Leaves, finely chopped
30 g Pine Nuts
1 packet of The Chunk Oumph (280g)
As much pasta as you desire – I’m not going to restrict your carbs and I judge my portion sizes by a) how hungry I am and b) how many people I’m feeding 🙂
Chopped Spring Onions to garnish, if desired
- Place the peppers and garlic cloves into an ovenproof dish. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Combine the ingredients and cook in the oven on a moderate heat for around 15 minutes.
- While waiting for the peppers cook the pasta as per packet instructions. I like to generously salt the water.
- Remove the dish from the oven and place the peppers and garlic into a food processor (or you can use a stick blender). Add the basil, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, and tomatoes and blend until smooth to make the red pesto.
- Heat some oil in a pan and cook the Oumph as per instructions. I like the chop the chunks down further to create bite size morsels.
- Add the mixed pesto into the pan and heat through. You can add a glug of Alpro Soya Cream for a more luxurious sauce, if desired.
- Now comes preference. You can combine the pasta and the sauce if you wish, or serve the pesto and Oumph on top. Garnish with the chopped spring onions if using, and a sprinkle of vegan Parmesan. I have a recipe for a raw homemade version here.
Thanks for reading,