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Pasta Shells with Chickpea "Meat" Sauce by Unrefined Vegan

GF Pasta Shells with Chickpea “Meat” Sauce

  • Author: Annie
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 45
  • Total Time: 60


The next best thing to simmered-all-day pasta sauce. Enjoy this vegan, gluten-free “meat” sauce on pasta or spread over your favorite pizza crust.


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
  • dash red pepper flakes
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. red miso paste (I use a soy-free variety from South River)
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • ~1.2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup, or to taste
  • 13 ounces gluten-free (or whole wheat/grain pasta shells)
  • vegan Parmesan cheese substitute, for garnish, optional
  • chopped fresh basil, for garnish, optional


  1. Heat a large skillet to medium-high, add a splash of water or vegetable broth, and sauté the chopped onion and carrot for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté an additional minute.
  2. While the carrots and onion cook, put the chickpeas in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to break them down. You don’t want hummus – but you also don’t want any whole chickpeas remaining. Set aside.
  3. Stir the herbs and spices* into the onion/carrot mixture and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the chickpeas and sauté for about 5 minutes, letting them brown a bit.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes, miso, tomato paste, and maple syrup, scraping up the yummy browned bits and stirring well to combine. Turn down the heat to low and let the sauce bubble for about 30 minutes. If you have one of those mesh screens, this is the time to use it.
  5. Stir the sauce occasionally, adding broth or water if it becomes too thick. While it cooks, get the pasta water going and cook according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/4-1/2 cup of the pasta water, if desired (you can use this to further thin the sauce, if necessary).
  6. When the sauce is done, taste and adjust the seasonings. Pour the pasta into the sauce and stir well, making sure to coat each and every tender shell. Serve with copious amounts of vegan Parmesan cheese and fresh basil if you are lucky enough to have some!


  • *For extra flavor, add a splash of red wine while sautéing the herbs.
  • Chopped kalamata olives would be a yummy addition to this sauce, as would a couple of spoonfuls of capers.


  • Serving Size: 6
  • Calories: 496
  • Sugar: 8
  • Sodium: 963
  • Fat: 13
  • Saturated Fat: 7
  • Unsaturated Fat: 5
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 70
  • Protein: 27
  • Cholesterol: 26