This recipe would likely make an Italian chef clasp their chest with both hands and yell "Blasphemy!" or whatever the word is for that in Italian, but here's what I say: Counter-intuitive cooking, just like counter-intuitive anything, often ends up being the most fun. And who says there have to be any rules in the kitchen anyway?
Barbeque sauce is one of those condiments I get an uncanny craving for each time spring rolls around. Maybe it's the sight and smells floating around from all those backyard barbeques in my neighborhood. And I have this great barbeque sauce recipe that I can put together in less than 10 minutes, with stuff I usually have lying around the kitchen. I tend to cook it up at least a couple of times each summer and it keeps forever in the refrigerator, ready when I am.
But for a vegan, using barbeque sauce-- which tends to have very strong albeit alluring flavors-- is not as easy as slapping it on some meat. And you can only bake your tofu and tempeh in it so many times. This week, after a long day at work and after tackling a sinkful of dishes (our dishwasher is on the blink), I wanted to spend as little time in the kitchen as I humanly could and make a fun, healthy dish we would enjoy. That's when it hit me: I'd cook up some pasta and mix it up with some barbeque sauce. Splendido!
Of course, I wasn't as confident then as I sound now, because I had no idea how it would turn out. To make the dish more substantial, I threw in some kala chana, deep-brown chickpeas found in Indian stores that cook up more al-dente than regular chickpeas do and have a great, meaty flavor. Use regular chickpeas or any legume if you would rather. I also added some cauliflowers and some biting-green capers for more texture and flavor.
I was really surprised by how wonderful this dish tasted. The barbeque sauce was perfect with the whole-wheat shell pasta I used, and it coated the cauliflower nicely, giving this bland but delicious vegetable a smoky richness that was amazing.
Time for the recipe now. I've been slow with blogging these last few days because I've been really busy at work-- thanks to those of you who missed me and wrote in to ask. But I am back now, and hope to keep writing as often as I can.
Ciao, all, and enjoy the recipe!
- 1 pound shell pasta (use any other shape)
- ½ large head or 1 small head of cauliflower , separated into small florets
- 1 cup dried chickpeas , soaked overnight and cooked until tender.
- 1 to 1 ½ cups of barbeque sauce (adjust per your tastebuds)
- ¼ cup of capers.
- For Barbeque Sauce:
- 1 cup tomato ketchup
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 2 tbsp chilli sauce
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ¼ cup tamari (use soy sauce if you can't find this)
- Place all the ingredients for the sauce in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Set aside.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions, or until al dente.
- In the last five minutes of cooking add to it the cauliflower separated into small florets.
- Add the cauliflower and pasta in a bowl. Add to it the kala chana, barbecue sauce and capers.
- Mix well and serve.