Category Archives: Pasta

Vegan Pesto Brings Everyone Together

Aren’t the best recipes spur of the moment? And better still when they’re fast, easy and crowd-pleasing…

It’s a challenge cooking meals for vegan and omnivores, those with dietary restrictions, and tastebuds that are less than adventurous–especially when it comes to trying “healthy” plant-based foods. And you can forgeddabout raw foods.

With dinnertime fast approaching, I took inventory of what we had in the house:

  • Fragrance of fresh basil, a gift from a friend’s garden, was calling to be used every time the refrigerator was opened
  • A large head of cauliflower crowded the drawer
  • A container of baby spinach leaves would be a shame not to use it while fresh, too

I decided to make a basil spinach pesto with cauliflower–withholding the miso or nutritional yeast I usually include–to allow my mother and aunt to add grated cheese at the table. I would opt for parmesan sprinkles–a blend of sesame seeds and nutritional yeast–inspired by Jo Stepaniak’s “Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook”.

Rather than sauteing cauliflower separately, I added it with the pasta water (though boiling is not optimal for nutrition), and the consistency was just right after 7-8 minutes. At least, it saves time, and pots to clean.

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Ciambotta Pasta

I was about to make our favorite pasta puttanesca the other night when it occurred to me that capers and olives aren’t exactly what you call fresh vegetables. I found string beans and celery in the refrigerator, made a quick trip to the store for bell peppers, eggplant, and zucchini. And–in no time–my quicky puttanesca pasta had morphed into ciambotta (Italian vegetable stew) pasta.

Many people use potatoes as starch in their ciambotta recipe, but I prefer mine over pasta, and I found a perfect match waiting in the pantry: whole wheat organic chioccole (large curvy tube pasta with ridges). Next, an online search proved I’m certainly not the first one to use capers and olives in their ciambotta.  OK, I’m not original, but there’s safety in numbers!

As great as this dish was the first time, the following day I mixed the leftovers with Teese mozzarella (photo) and baked in a casserole pan for  a bubbly-crispy and totally comforting late winter lunch. Continue reading

Vegan Pasta Alfredo-Style

Who can recall the carefree days of youth, when you never thought about counting calories or high-cholesterol?

With my Southern Italian roots, rich sauces like Alfredo or Carbonara sauce were not something on the menu at home, but I always looked forward to having them when visiting Little Italy.

Having learned cooking from my mother, I steered clear of preparing foods containing large amounts of cream, butter and eggs, long before becoming vegan. Thanks to the wonder of nutritional yeast (and pioneers like JoAnn Stepaniak), it’s easy to prepare a rich creamy Alfredo-style sauce that’s healthy, too! Continue reading

Vegan Puttanesca Sauce (# 375,001!)

A lot of omnivores, and even many vegetarians, think vegan cooking is hard, but in reality, it’s no more difficult than non-vegan cooking. Getting into the mindset where you are ready for a plants-based, vegan diet is the most challenging. If you’ve landed on this page, you are obviously headed in the right direction.

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca is one of those old standby recipes that I hadn’t touched since becoming vegan, that is–until my sister served a delectable anchovy-less rendition for New Year’s dinner. And, like so many other dishes I couldn’t fathom eating again (due to the elimination of a supposedly “core ingredient”), I am now rediscovering it. Continue reading