In My Kitchen, April 2013

Spaghetti Gratin

What’s in my kitchen this month?

This Spaghetti Gratin with Artichoke Cashew Cheese. But first, what else is in my kitchen?

I turned an interested eye to the most used room in my home after reading Nupur’s post which in turn was inspired by a meme hosted each month by Celia of the blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. It is such a great idea, I couldn’t wait to get started!

My kitchen, like everyone else’s I suppose, is the heart of my home. It’s the place I enjoy being in most because I love to cook and to eat. It’s the place where we spend many evenings chatting about the important  things and the trivial.  It’s where guests seem to naturally congregate, no matter how comfortable the other rooms are.My kitchen, I will confess, or more specifically my kitchen table, can be messy. It ends up becoming a not-so-temporary home of all those things that pass through our daily lives. It’s where the mail lands every evening, where my bowls of sourdough and sprouting beans sit, and where the waffle maker waits between use and cleaning. In my kitchen hangs this tile: we picked it up years ago during a trip to beautiful Delft in the Netherlands. “This house is clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy.”


My kitchen is home to my spice rack, made of a recycled shelf and recycled glass bottles of jelly. This is my favorite part of the kitchen. It sits close to my workspace and I can reach out to it easily when I cook. On the lower shelves are the staples: turmeric, chilli powder, mustard, coriander, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, cloves, among others. On the top shelf are  powdered spices like garam masala, biryani masala, pav bhaji masala, sambar powder, rasam powder, and so on.
Spice Rack


On my kitchen wall hang these two beautiful plates that remind us of dear friends and good times: the bottom plate, a handpainted one from Portugal, is a gift from our friend Sharon who is half-Portuguese. The other was gifted to us by our dear friends Margo and Jon who brought it all the way from Jerusalem when they lived there.


From my kitchen I have a beautiful view of the oak tree sprouting new leaves in the backyard. Never mind the dead potted plant crying out to be replaced. Oh, well.

My kitchen has a favorite guest: my sweetheart pooch Opie who knows to go here when he gets an attack of the munchies. Because Opie has arthritis which can make bending over a bowl on the floor difficult, we bought him this raised contraption with a place for his water bowl and his food bowl. It stands in a corner of the kitchen, but his more favorite way to eat here is by scratching my leg with his paw and demanding a share of whatever it is I am cooking. When we sit down at the kitchen table to eat, he goes underneath the table and nuzzles our fingers to get attention– and food.

My kitchen has an uninvited guest: a cute little mouse with big, beady eyes. Alfie, as we have named him, has evaded all of our attempts to catch him in a humane mouse trap. So smart is he that he learned how to get the food Desi would place in the back of the trap without getting himself caught. Finally we conceded that a mouse so bright deserved to stay, so we’ve made our peace with him.

In my kitchen are memories I will remember for a lifetime: Desi loading the dishwasher just so every night; the twinkle in my brother-in-law Naru’s eye when he took his first bite of my mango bread; our dogs Opie, Lucy, and Freddie sitting in a half-circle around Desi, eyes fixed keenly on his face and hand as he dispensed treats; my cat Pubm meowing for us to open the kitchen door leading to the back yard; learning from my sister-in-law Paddu how to spread dosa batter on a hot griddle; baking cookies with my friend Navami on Christmas Eve, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for our friends Kumar and Lalita at 3 am in the morning after a long drive home from Niagara Falls…and many more to come.

In my kitchen this past week I cooked up this Spaghetti Gratin with Artichoke Cashew Cheese.

I love making pastas on weeknights because they are so easy to brown-bag to lunch the next day. Desi is extremely finicky about anything drippy that might ooze out of a lunch box, and because he eats at his desk most of the time– as do I– lunch has to be delicious, convenient and unfussy, all at the same time.

Although this gratin sounds like it might take a day and a half to make, what with the mushrooms and the artichokes and the cashew cheese, it took me under an hour, promise. The cashew cheese is easy and delicious– better than the real thing, and healthier. I used whole-wheat spaghetti to make this dish healthy, and frozen artichoke hearts from Trader Joe’s– better than sliced bread, surely, because who has the time (or the skill) to actually prep an artichoke? Not me.

The mushrooms give this dish some added nutrition and flavor. I used a mix of crimini and shiitake, although you could go with one or the other or just about any other mushroom.

Here’s the recipe, then. Enjoy, all!

Spaghetti Gratin

Spaghetti Gratin with Artichoke Cashew Cheese
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 8
  • 1 16-oz package of whole-wheat spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces and cooked per package directions until al dente.
  • 2 cups frozen artichoke hearts. I put them in a microwave with 2 tbsp of water and zap them for about five minutes or until they're quite tender. Drain the artichoke hearts and reserve.
  • ½ cup cashew nuts, roasted lightly.
  • 2 heaping tbsp nutritional yeast.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups of mushrooms, halved if small and quartered if large
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs, tossed with 1 tsp olive oil, salt and ground black pepper
  • A generous dash of ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  1. To make the artichoke cashew cheese, place the cashew nuts in a blender along with the artichokes, nutritional yeast, salt, ground black pepper, and enough water to make a smooth paste.
  2. Blend into a very smooth consistency. Set aside.
  3. Heat the olive oil and saute the sliced onions until they turn translucent, about five minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and stir-fry a few seconds.
  5. Add the mushrooms and saute until they are tender, another five minutes.
  6. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and add the spaghetti along with ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water. Add the artichoke cheese and stir well to mix everything.
  7. Pour the spaghetti into a gratin dish or baking dish. Sprinkle another ¼  cup of the pasta cooking liquid over the spaghetti.
  8. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Place under a medium-hot broiler for 10 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.
  9. Serve hot.


Spaghetti au Gratin


(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.


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  1. Sferd says

    Sadly, we don’t have Trader Joe’s in our state (yet). I have not seen frozen artichoke hearts in stores. Can canned artichoke hearts be used?

  2. says

    Thanks so much for joining in, it’s so nice to have a peek into your kitchen! Your Opie looks like a gorgeous old soul, and I love your beautiful plates! Our kitchen is often pretty messy too – and the dining room table gets used for all sorts of things.. :)

  3. says

    I really enjoyed this sneak peek into your kitchen, Vaishali! What a sweet and cozy place! Looking at Opie reminded me how much I miss having Dale tripping me up in the kitchen every day as I cooked.

  4. says

    I loved this post, full of warm memories of meals, laughter and memories.
    The spice rack is nice! Sometimes I just wish I had some space, sadly, in an apartment, a kitchen is almost like an after thought :(

    I have never made a gratin, M is just not into pasta etc., one day, when my son is a bit older….!
    I wish there was a TJ’s close to where I stay, I don’t fancy driving 25 miles to where it is….

    • says

      Thanks, Manasi. The memories are definitely the best part. And sorry about the TJ’s– their products are awesome. I have one about four miles from my home but I still don’t get there as often as I should.

  5. says

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  6. says

    great recipe! and if it is an Italian who is saying that… you can believe it! :-)

    thanks for the recipes for vegan parathas too, I’m looking forward to prepare them


  7. says

    I always enjoy reading the “In My Kitchen” posts and it was great to get an insight into your creative space and the lovely memories it holds. Love the photo of Opie stretched out, he is such a cutie! I might join in this meme next month too, so many bloggers I follow are writing these posts now. The pasta looks delicious too!

    • says

      Mel, thanks. Celia’s come up with such a great idea, and I had a great time this month browsing other In the Kitchen posts.
      Opie really is the ultimate cutie, isn’t he, but I am biased. :)

  8. says

    Love seeing inside your kitchen – I love your plaque – I think I need one of those for my kitchen – and opie looks very much at home there – our kitchen table is often busy but is great to sit around at the end of the day

  9. says

    Wow, that artichoke cashew cheese sounds amazing! And the ‘clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy’ is a slogan I may need to grab for my own use…

  10. says

    Loved your spice rack Vaishali it reminded of my mom’s spice rack. I wonder how you end up keeping a white spice rack so clean after cooking an indian meal.

    • says

      Hi CS, it’s far enough from the stove not to be subjected to any splatter! :) Oh, the tales an Indian kitchen could tell from all those spices flying around everywhere.

  11. says

    I made this last night for guests, and it was absolutely scrumptious. three of us ate almost the whole pan. I used veggie broth for the liquid, added the zest and the juice of a small lemon to the “cheese” mixture, and a big pile of fresh chopped parsley to the casserole as well. A keeper! once again, your recipe will go into heavy rotation at our house! Thanks so much for a lovely blog and spectacular food!

    • says

      Dara, how lovely! Thanks for the feedback, and your additions sound super-scrumptious. I was thinking too as I made this that some parsley would have been wonderful, but I didn’t have any on hand.

  12. says

    I loved peeping into your kitchen. It is so great to see your creative work space :) I loved your spice rack lovely. I rarely by any condiments so I do not get to collect different bottles.

    Hope to see regular updates from you on blog :)

  13. says

    I loved this post. Totally LOVED it. More than the recipe (which is awesome, no offence) I loved this piece about your kitchen… Its says so much about you, about the people you love, about your life. I love my kitchen too and its my favorite place in the entire house too – So many memories and such a haven for when you are happy or depressed. I gravitate towards cooking to calm myself more often that i can count! Also, I love your spice shelf.
    PS – Thanks for your very encouraging comments on my very ridiculous post :) Its readers like you who keep the crazy in me going!

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