This recipe is perfect for vegan college students who might be looking to have a fancy dinner or impress a date without breaking the bank. It is a little involved and meant for someone who knows the basics of cooking and is willing to spend some time in the kitchen. That being said, I guarantee that the final product is worth it! I've personally made this recipe many times and every time it turns out great!

Smoky Charred Pepper Sauce Pasta

  • Prep Time:15 mins
  • Cook Time:40 mins
  • Total Time:55 mins
  • Servings:4
  • Medium


  • 2 red/yellow bell peppers
  • 1 large broccoli head florets
  • 3 tsp fresh coriander/parsley/cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • 1 8oz can coconut cream
  • 4 servings spaghetti pasta
  • 2 tsp vegetable bouillon I recommend the Better Than Bouillon brand
  • 2 onions
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2.5 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp African smoked pepper I used the one from Trader Joe's
  • 1 tsp Umami seasoning/mushroom powder I used the one from Trader Joe's
  • Olive Tapenade I used the one from Trader Joe's
Om dabhi
  • Step 1

    Broccoli Coconut Puree:
    Boil the broccoli florets in salted water until tender. Blend the broccoli florets in a food processor with 1 large clove of garlic, herbs of choice, 1-2 tbsp of coconut cream, and salt to taste. Squeeze some lime juice and zest the other half of the lime. Add to a food processor. Blend it together until it forms a bright green puree.

    Tip - If that's too much coconut for you, substitute it with a thick vegan yogurt like cashew yogurt

    Om dabhi
  • Step 2

    Smoky Pepper Pasta Sauce:
    Dice the onions and two cloves of garlic finely. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil on medium flame and add the onions, tomato paste, and garlic. Cook this mixture till the onions are jam-like and caramelized.

    Tip - Reduce the flame if the onions are browning too quickly
    Tip - Add a pinch of baking soda to reduce cook time. Baking soda breaks down the onion cell walls and quickens the Maillard (browning) reaction.

    Meanwhile, char and peel the peppers either on an open flame or under a broiler (video guide at the end). Put these charred peppers, cooked onion mixture, 2 tbsp coconut cream, one clove of raw garlic, bouillon, all the seasonings, and some water (up to ½ cup) in a food processor. Blend to a smooth puree. Cook this puree on a medium flame for at least 10 mins until all the flavors get to know each other. Once done squeeze and zest half a lime, and season with salt and pepper (according to your taste).

    Optional Additions:
    - Coconut aminos (add less additional salt)
    - Vegan Worcestershire sauce (a few dashes)

    Om dabhi
  • Step 3

    Cook your pasta in salty water (as salty as me on a Monday morning) for a minute less than the manufacturer’s directions. Finish cooking the pasta in the sauce.

    Om dabhi
  • Step 4

    Put a generous layer of broccoli coconut puree on the plate. To plate the pasta, make three spaghetti twirls using a big spoon and a fork (video guide at the end). Garnish with some olive tapenade (a little will go a long way as it has a very strong flavor). Finish by zesting some lemon.

    Om dabhi

Tips During Cooking

- While making the puree, feel free to substitute the coconut milk with any thick vegan yogurt of your liking

- Adjust the consistency of your sauce by either cooking for longer to get a thicker sauce or adding water to get a thinner sauce

- While cooking onions, adjust the flame so that they aren't getting brown very quickly. Also, add a pinch of baking soda to reduce cook time

Video Guides

1. How to Char and Peel Peppers

2. How to Plate Past

Make It Your Own

This is only my version of this pasta, but you can adjust the recipe according to your food preferences! I wanted to capture the smoky flavors in the sauce and then contrast it with the brightness of the puree. I like my food a little spicier, but if you have a low spice tolerance, feel free to make any substitutions.

I believe that food is the tastiest when you make it according to your taste preferences. Never forget to add your own touch even when following a recipe! 

Feel free to make the sauce with any vegetables (such as a variety of mushrooms, cauliflower, carrots, etc.) and/or herbs (like thyme, rosemary, etc.). I personally keep changing the ingredients or the ratios to have a slightly different and exciting end product every time!

Something About Me

I really enjoy spending time in the kitchen, coming up with unusual flavor combinations, and creative plating ideas. I believe that good food takes time and dedication. A memorable meal needs to look, smell, taste, and feel good all of which I tried to accomplish in this recipe.

No doubt that cooking this dish is a little involving, but to me, it's this selfless act of sacrificing your time for someone's happiness that is the most humbling and rewarding journey which always brings me back to the kitchen to cook for the people I love. So go out there, make this dish, and put a smile on that person who means a lot to you :)

Where to Follow Me 

If you want more food ideas, I have a food Instagram account (@culinary_cloud9) where I regularly post pictures of my dishes.

One of my latest dish was an apple and caramel baklava which I cooked to celebrate the fresh farm-picked apples and to support the local farmers 

Om dabhi
Om dabhi

If you want to see more dishes like these, do check out my account. Feel free to DM me with any questions!