I made this Pasta with Greens and Lima Beans in an awful hurry the other night. I was nursing a cold but I was also craving a big, comforting bowl of pasta with great texture and flavor. It had to be nutritious enough to see me through the illness, and flavorful enough to appeal to my hibernating tastebuds. But above all, it had to be something that didn’t keep me in the kitchen for more than 30 minutes, tops.
So into the pot went a bunch of Yu Choy greens that I had picked up at the Asian store. It’s a veggie from the broccoli family with thin, edible stems and it’s very, very tasty. You can substitute spinach or kale if you can’t find this or don’t want to use it. I also had on hand a bag of frozen lima beans that I zapped in the microwave for a few seconds and in they went.
The rest of the ingredients were pantry staples: garlic, red pepper flakes, parsley, ground black pepper and a few walnuts for crunch and more protein. I used orzo because it is always the one pasta I can count to have on hand– I dunno, it’s something about that rice-y shape. But you could substitute another pasta– bow ties would be fabulous here, or even spaghetti broken into 2-inch bits.
I need to crawl back under the covers now, but before I go here’s the recipe. Enjoy the weekend, all!
I am not a big fan of tomato-based pasta sauces, but there is one — just one– dish that makes me feel like I’ve died and gone to Italian food heaven: Pasta Puttanesca.
Perhaps that’s largely because the tomato flavor in Pasta Puttanesca is not overriding. Instead, it has the olives and the capers and the parsley and the anchovies that give it that complex, rich, deep, amazing flavor… wait, did I just say anchovies? On a VEGAN blog?
Ok, relax, I was just messing with ya. But here’s the truth. Pasta Puttanesca without anchovies is pretty much pasta in just another tomato sauce because let’s face it: the anchovies give the sauce that rich saltiness and that sea-like flavor that defines this dish. Because a big part of cooking vegan is giving up animal foods without giving up any of the flavor, I came up with a perfect solution for the anchovy dilemma that I shared with you when I posted my Vegan Slut’s Spaghetti way back when– a combination of seaweed and tamari. The seaweed adds the ocean-y flavor that’s so integral to Pasta Puttanesca, and the tamari adds that equally important deep, salty richness.
I made this pasta gluten-free and because there are so many new gluten-free eaters, or so it seems, after the dawn of 2014, I want to include some simple instructions helpful for any cook new to gluten-free pasta:
-Gluten-free pasta tends to be — like many gluten-free foods out there — starchy. So try to cook the pasta in lots and lots of water– it wouldn’t hurt to double up on the amount of water you use for your regular pasta. You will see evidence of the starch in the water which will turn milky white after a few minutes of cooking.
-Like with any pasta, salt your pasta cooking water liberally. Remember to stir your gluten-free pasta regularly to separate the strands and don’t overcook it because it will turn into mush — al dente is key here, so test the doneness and texture of your pasta often in the last few minutes of cooking.
-Also, as with any pasta, don’t let it sit around after it’s cooked and before you add it to the sauce– because that’s when the noodles start to stick together, when they have nothing else to do. Remember your sauce can sit around for a while before you add the pasta noodles– you can always reheat it — but not the other way round.
So now that you have the basic primer, here’s the recipe for my gluten-free Pasta Puttanesca, a treat you can cook and enjoy in a hurry on a weeknight or a relaxed weekend when you don’t want to spend half the day cooking. Try feeding this to someone who wouldn’t be seen within 10 feet of a vegan meal and see if they can tell the difference. I betcha they won’t.
I have for you today this delicious Pasta with Bean Ragout. With whole-wheat fettuccine. And two kinds of beans. And greens, and carrots, and tomatoes. Can it possibly get any better than that?
If you are looking for a weeknight dish that cooks up in a hurry and also makes a convenient brown bag lunch you can stop right now and put the pot on. I used two kinds of beans in this recipe– Great Northern Beans and some jewel-red kidney beans (rajma)– because I wanted their different, distinct flavors and textures and also all that great protein they bring along.
The greens were a bit of an afterthought, but an afterthought that worked. I had a big box of fresh, organic spring greens sitting in the refrigerator and begging to become anything but a salad (have I told you I’m not a big fan?) So into the pasta they went, right at the end of cooking, and wilted just enough to become perfectly tender.
This is, like most of my recipes, a very versatile one. You can substitute another kind of bean (black would be great, or pinto, or even chickpeas). And you can use all kinds of veggies– green peppers, zucchini, mushrooms and kale would all work perfectly.
The sauce is light and flavorful but robust enough to leave you licking the bowl after you’ve slurped up the last of the pasta. And the bean ragout is quite able to stand on its own as a separate dish, thank you, that you can soak up with some crusty wholegrain bread.
1 16-oz package of fettuccine pasta. I cut up the fettuccine ribbons into 2-inch bits to make this an easier lunch to brown bag, but you can leave it whole if you’d rather.
1 cup of dried, mixed red kidney beans and Great Northern Beans or 3 cups of canned beans. (Use chickpeas, black beans or pinto beans for a variation)
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 medium carrots, diced
4 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled and then finely chopped
1 14-oz can of diced tomatoes (feel free to sub with two fresh tomatoes)
5 cups of packed spring greens (use spinach or kale for a variation)
2 bay leaves
¼ cup white wine (optional)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
If using dry beans, soak them in hot water for an hour or cold water overnight. Pressure cook or cook on stovetop until they are tender. If cooking on the stovetop, cover the beans with at least an inch of water, bring to a boil, cover and cook for 60-90 minutes or until tender. Keep an eye on the beans and add more water if the beans dry up during cooking.
Cook the pasta per package directions in salted water.
While the pasta cooks, heat half the olive oil in a large saucepan.
Add the chopped onion, bay leaves, and some salt and saute for about 5 minutes or until the onions turn translucent. Don’t let them brown.
Add the garlic and saute for a few seconds.
Add the carrots and wine, if using, and saute for another five minutes.
Add the beans and tomatoes and a cup of the beans’ cooking liquid or water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 7-8 minutes. Add the rosemary and stir it in.
Add the cooked pasta and greens and mix well. Turn off the heat.
Add some ground black pepper to taste and more salt, if needed.
This Pumpkin and Spinach Lasagna is just about the perfect meal if you love creamy pastas that melt in your mouth and seem way more indulgent than they actually are. And if you hate baking up those full-size lasagnas that take forever to make and then last forever and a week.
I made this lasagna on a weeknight and it took me no more than 45 minutes to put together (plus baking time). I used those no-boil noodles that cut down on the prep time quite a bit and the 7-inch noodles also fit perfectly in my little baking dish.
There are two kinds of fillings that you need to make for this dish, but they come together easily. One is a pumpkin bechamel sauce that is smooth and velvety and fragrant with nutmeg. I used almond milk for the bechamel but you can use any nondairy milk. The spinach filling is rather like creamed spinach — in fact if you were looking for a vegan creamed spinach recipe I bet you won’t find a better one. I used cashew cream in place of the dairy cream and it was just perfect.
To top the lasagna I used some grated potatoes because I love potatoes and I love the crunch they add to the creamy lasagna. You could go with breadcrumbs mixed with a little oil and herbs if you’d rather.>
This lasagna is an extraordinarily healthy indulgence, as you can see from the nutrition label at the end of the post. A single serving packs nearly 11 grams of protein, more than 8 grams of dietary fiber, and more than 400 percent of your daily requirement for Vitamin A. Although I called this a lasagna for two it could easily feed four people. Or you could brown bag leftovers to lunch, like we did. The only problem is, once you’ve licked off the last of the crumbs you might be left wishing you had made more.
1 potato, zapped in the microwave for a minute, then peeled and grated and mixed with 1 tsp olive oil
FOR THE PUMPKIN BECHAMEL:
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1½ cups pumpkin puree
A generous pinch of nutmeg
2 cups nondairy milk like almond or soy
2 tsp olive oil
FOR THE CREAMED SPINACH:
2 tsp olive oil
½ medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
½ cup cashew nuts, blended with ½ cup of water until very smooth and creamy
8 ounces of frozen, chopped spinach, thawed in the microwave
Salt and pepper to taste.
MAKE PUMPKIN BECHAMEL:
Heat the oil in a saucepan. Over medium heat add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour glistens, about two minutes.
Add the nondairy milk, stirring constantly with a whisk to prevent lumps from forming. Add the pumpkin puree and continue to whisk. Cook the sauce for 10 minutes. You want it to be thick but fluid, about the consistency of pancake batter. If the sauce gets too thick, add some more nondairy milk.
Add salt and pepper to taste and the nutmeg. Stir well.
MAKE CREAMED SPINACH:
Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion and garlic.
Saute over medium heat until the onions turn translucent. Add the flour.
Cook, stirring, about two minutes until the flour glistens. Add the cashew cream and stir well.
Add the thawed spinach and continue cooking about two minutes. If the mixture is too thick, add some water. Add salt and ground pepper and, if desired, a dash of nutmeg.
Turn off the heat.
ASSEMBLE THE LASAGNA:
Spread a ladleful of the pumpkin bechamel on the bottom of a 8 X 5-inch baking dish with sides that are at least 3 inches deep.
Arrange two no-boil noodles on top of the sauce, then pour half of the pumpkin sauce on the noodles and spread evenly.
Place two more lasagna noodles on the pumpkin mixture, pour the the spinach mixture on top and spread evenly.
Place two more lasagna noodles on top of the spinach and spread the remaining pumpkin sauce over the noodles.
Top with the grated potato or breadcrumbs. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes remove the tinfoil and continue to bake for 15 more minutes. Then turn on the broiler and broil until the potatoes turn golden-brown and crunchy, about 5-10 minutes. Keep a close eye on the lasagna at this stage because you don’t want the top to burn.
Remove from the oven. Serve the lasagna hot or at room temperature– it’s perfect either way.
Nutrition information is for four servings, although this recipe could easily serve six:
Everyone I know loves Fettuccine Alfredo, but no one I know will actually eat it.
If you know about this sumptuous Italian dish, you know exactly what I mean. Creamy and velvety, this Italian classic flavored subtly by butter and cream and cheese screams “eat me” to one’s inner gourmet and gourmand. But, as you can imagine with such an ingredient list, it also weighs in at a bazillion calories making it a no-no for pretty much everyone except the most intrepid eater.
Which is a pity, really, because shouldn’t we all be eating more pleasure-giving food rather than less? Ergo, my Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo. While I won’t pretend that my version that has a sauce made of cashews is very low-calorie, for those of you who have missed eating Fettuccine Alfredo for some reason or the other, this is a great, lower-fat alternative so full of flavor that you just won’t miss the dairy.
Cashew cream is a great substitute for dairy cream because it has a similar flavor and mouth-feel. I added a couple of wonderful flavor boosters to the cashew cream to make the Alfredo sauce all the more special: cheesy nutritional yeast and a whole head of creamy roasted garlic.
Be sure to add some sage to your sauce. Its smoky, earthy notes are perfect with the mushrooms.
16 ounces of fettuccine pasta, cooked per package directions. Time it so your pasta is al dente just as you are ready to mix with the sauce.
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cups mushrooms, sliced
4 large sage leaves, finely chopped
¼ cup white wine
Ground white pepper to taste
1 cup cashew pieces
2 cups nondairy milk
4 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 large head of garlic, roasted. Slice off the top of the garlic bulb so the cloves are exposed, drizzle a few drops of olive oil on the garlic, wrap in some aluminum foil, place in a baking pan and roast in a preheated 400 degree oven about 30 minutes or until the cloves are soft and golden and squeeze out easily from the bulb.
Salt to taste
Soak the cashews with the nondairy milk for at least 30 minutes. Blitz in a blender with the yeast and the roasted garlic and salt to taste until you have a silky-smooth sauce.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the sliced mushrooms and saute for a minute. Add the wine and let the mushrooms cook, stirring frequently, until all the wine has evaporated and the mushrooms are caramelizing.
Add the chopped sage leaves, ground white pepper, and salt. Stir well and then pour in the cashew milk. You want a rather liquid sauce.
Cook the sauce, stirring frequently to ensure it doesn’t stick at the bottom, for 10 minutes. Now add the cooked pasta and stir well to mix. Turn off the heat.
Add more salt and pepper if desired. This dish is best served hot because the sauce, which is utterly silky and smooth when fresh, has a tendency to dry out. If you do have leftovers though, it still tastes amazing.
(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.