Super nutritious and iron-rich vegan creamy butternut squash, chickpea and pea pasta.
When I make pasta dishes, I sometimes tend to skip the vegetables and legumes and just made a plain pasta dish. Pasta is so yummy on its own that you don’t need to do much to it to make it more exciting. However, since I try to make every meal count when it comes to nourishing my body, I try to add vegetables to boost its nutrient density.
Butternut squash is one vegetable that veganism has made me appreciate. I hated it with a passion before, but I love it now. I put it in vegetable stews, bake it or even make soups with it. Squash is also an excellent source of creaminess in pasta dishes. If you prefer to eat white pasta (mainly on its own), you may find that you get hungry shortly after eating it. Whole grain pasta typically has more fibre in it, but with the addition of vegetables such as butternut squash in this recipe, you’ll easier increase the fibre content of your meal.
Without going into too much detail or off on a tangent, fibre helps you feel full for longer and also promotes the growth of friendly gut bacteria. If you didn’t know already, gut health is everything when it comes to wellness. A whole food plant-based diet naturally provides lots of fibre, but if your vegan (or any other) diet is less than adequate, you should make an effort to eat as many fibre-rich foods as possible.
Butternut squash is an excellent source of carotenoid antioxidants, magnesium and folate, nutrients that promote cardiovascular health. A good of amount of nutrients in butternut squash is stored in the edible skin, so where possible cook it with the skin on. Since squash absorbs heavy metals and other toxins from the soil, it is wise to choose organic varieties.
As a premenopausal plant-based vegan, it is essential for me to pay attention to my iron intake. The need for me to do this is made more crucial by the fact that I carry the faulty sickle cell gene, which makes me prone to developing anaemia. For these reasons, I try to eat as many green leafy vegetables as I can, and always add legumes to my meals where possible. They’re both good sources of iron if you haven’t guessed already. Click to read more on vegan and plant-based sources of iron.
I’ve added plain soy yoghurt to this recipe to add more creaminess to this dish. But the added (nutritional) benefit of soy is vitamin B12, vitamin D and calcium. Stick with unflavoured soy yoghurt if you choose to use it, slightly flavoured versions even those from Alpro don’t work right.
Serves 1-2 Prep time 5 mins Cook time 25 minutes
- 170g fresh (or frozen) butternut squash chopped into cubes
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
- 2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ½ vegetable stock cube
- 83g pasta
- Handful rocket leaves
- 3 tbsp plain soy yoghurt
- ¾ can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 50g peas
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
- Black pepper, to taste
- Heat a good splash of water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, garlic, vegetable stock cube, Italian seasoning and butternut squash to pan, stir well then cook for around 8-10 minutes or until the squash is extremely soft.
- Take the pan off the heat and mash well with a potato masher or fork to form a coarse puree. Alternatively, blend in a food processor if you prefer a smoother texture.
- In the meantime, cook the pasta according to the pack instructions or until al dente then drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid.
- Transfer the butternut squash puree back into the pan then add the cooked chickpeas and peas and cook on a simmer for 2-3 minutes just to warm the peas and chickpeas. Once they’re warm, take the pan off the heat and stir in the yoghurt.
- Add the pasta to the sauce and mix well to distribute evenly. Season with salt and pepper to taste then serve with fresh rocket and sprinkle with chilli flakes for an extra kick if you desire.
Tip: You can add nutritional yeast when cooking the butternut squash when blending in the food processor or at the end as a garnish. It’s a great way to get more vitamin B12 and it adds a cheesy flavour.