Pasta with Fresh Tomato and Basil Sauce

One of my favorite quick recipes is “Pasta with Fresh 5-Minute Basil Tomato Sauce” from Sarah Kramer’s book La Dolce Vegan! Vegan Livin’ Made Easy. She has a few different vegan cookbooks, and if you’re vegan you probably already own at least one.

This recipe is really fast, really yummy, and a nice change from regular tomato sauce and pasta. Usually I make it in the summer, but I realized I hadn’t made it in a while and summer is almost over! It went by so fast…

I stick pretty close to her recipe, but do a couple things a little differently. I can’t seem to ever follow recipes exactly! Here’s the way I do it.

1 package pasta
4 tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves
1/4 cup fresh basil tightly packed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Dash of dried (or fresh) oregano


  • Boil the pasta.
  • While it’s cooking, chop one tomato and set it aside for later.
  • Finely chop (or press) the garlic and sautee it until golden.
  • In a blender or food processor, blend together the remaining tomatoes, oil, garlic, basil, salt, pepper, and oregano until chunky. I recommend putting the tomatoes in the blender last so the other ingredients get chopped and mixed in before the tomatoes turn completely to liquid. The sauce can be a little watery, so if you don’t want that, you can squeeze out the seeds of the tomatoes before blending.
  • Drain the noodles and place in bowls for serving. Add sauce, chopped tomatoes, and a sprig of basil on top.

Animal Free App

I recently found a handy (and free!) app called Animal Free. It lists ingredients that are vegan and ingredients that are derived from animal products. It also gives you information about why the ingredient is or isn’t vegan. I’ve been vegetarian/vegan for years now, but I definitely don’t have all the lesser known ingredients memorized. Honestly, it seems like it could make eating nearly impossible to have to check foods for all of these ingredients. There’s no way I could remember all of them!

Some I already know, like the semi-grotesque Carmine (Carminic Acid, Cochineal, Natural Red 4): “Red pigment from the crushed female cochineal insect. It takes a million corpses to make a kilogram of carminic acid, the more purified form of cochineal extract. Used in cosmetics, shampoos, red apple sauce, and other foods (including red lollipops and food coloring). May cause allergic reaction.” Don’t believe me? It’s true. It’s always puzzled me why even non-vegans would want to wear or eat crushed up beetles, but my guess is most people just don’t know that’s what they’re doing.

It can be difficult especially for a new vegan to try to decipher labels to figure out if something is vegan or not. This app is a good challenge for seasoned vegans to learn more ingredients and a great resource for people who are becoming vegan, thinking about it, or just want to be more informed about what’s in their food, beetles and all.