An offbeat but delicious and even counter-intuitive pasta: vegan pasta with barbecue sauce. Chickpeas and cauliflower add heft and more healthfulness.
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.