Hey everyone! Life can get crazy busy, especially when you’re trying to juggle work, family, and making healthy meals. Like many of you, I find myself reaching for takeout menus more often than I’d like.

Recently, my husband’s doctor flagged his cholesterol, so I’ve been on a mission to create delicious meals that are good for him too. This one-pot penne vodka recipe is a winner! It’s packed with flavor, comes together in under 30 minutes, and uses some clever swaps to keep it heart-healthy.

What I love about it:

  • Plant-Based Power: We’re using Trader Joe’s Beefless Ground Beef for a satisfying protein punch without the saturated fat. It crumbles beautifully and adds a meaty texture.
  • Sneak Attack Veggies: This is where you can get creative! Sauteed spinach, mushrooms, or chopped zucchini would all disappear seamlessly into the sauce.
  • Creamy, Dreamy Sauce: Primal Kitchen’s No-Dairy Vodka Sauce is a lifesaver. It’s bursting with tomato flavor and keeps things dairy-free, which is a win for us.
  • One-Pot Wonder: This recipe is all about minimizing dishes! Everything cooks in one skillet, making cleanup a breeze.

The breakdown (all ingredients easily found at Whole Foods!):

  • Protein Power:
    • 1 package Bonza Penne (regular penne works too!)
    • 1 package Trader Joe’s Beefless Ground Beef
  • The Vodka Magic:
    • 1 jar Primal Kitchen No-Dairy Vodka Sauce
  • Flavor Boosters:
    • 1 serving Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast (adds a salty, cheesy touch)
    • 1 Tbs of Blue Agave Syrup (balances the acidity)
    • 1 Tbs Minced Garlic (adds a sharp burst of flavor, and great health benefits)
    • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • The Secret Weapon:
    • Reserved Pasta Water (gives the pasta sauce a thick texture)

Macros (per 200g serving, estimated):

  • Calories: Around 500-600 (depending on the brand of sauce and crumble)
  • Carbs: Around 60g (mostly from the pasta)
  • Protein: Around 25g (thanks to the plant-based crumbles)
  • Fat: Around 20g (mostly from the olive oil and Primal Kitchen sauce)

Tips & Tricks:

  • Salty, Happy Water: Always salt your pasta water! Aim for a flavor that tastes like the sea. This seasons the pasta from the inside out.
  • Pasta Perfection: The package directions are a great starting point, but don’t be afraid to adjust the cooking time for your desired texture. Want it a bit softer? Cook for an extra minute or two. Just remember to keep an eye on the plant-based to avoid mushy or broken pasta.
  • Starchy Savior: Reserve that pasta water! The starchy water helps create a silky smooth sauce that clings perfectly to the pasta. Nobody wants a dry pasta dish!
  • Veggie Vibrancy: This recipe is a blank canvas for your favorite veggies! Sauteed bell peppers, blanched broccoli, or even chopped spinach would all add color, flavor, and extra nutrients.
  • Hemp Heart Power: For an extra nutritional boost, sprinkle some hemp hearts on top before serving. They add a nutty flavor and are a great source of plant-based protein and healthy fats.
  • Fresh Finish: Chopped fresh cilantro adds a bright, citrusy note that cuts through the richness of the sauce.

Making it is super simple:

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
  2. While the pasta cooks, brown the crumbles and add a pinch of salt and pepper for extra flavor.
  3. Add the vodka sauce to the pan with the crumbles and simmer for a minute or two.
  4. Toss in the garlic, nutritional yeast, and a touch of agave syrup. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving about a cup of the starchy pasta water.
  6. Add the cooked pasta and reserved water to the pan with the sauce. Toss it all together until well combined. Add more pasta water if the sauce seems too thick.
  7. Plate it up! Garnish with some extra nutritional yeast and fresh cracked pepper for a finishing touch.

Enjoy with & Garnish Ideas:

This recipe is endlessly customizable! Feel free to add your favorite veggies, use regular pasta, or explore different plant-based crumbles.

With its simple ingredients and one-pot convenience, this Penny Vodka Pasta is a delicious and heart-healthy weeknight win. So ditch the takeout menus and give it a try! You won’t regret it.

Vodka Penne Pasta Vegan and Protein Packed
One creamy serving of vodka penne pasta.

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