Category Archives: Pasta Dishes

Happy New Year

You will never go hungry  if you know how to make Gnocchi on the 29th in Argentina, (the day before pay-day,) or if you can make Eastern European Pirogi.
Flour, oil, salt, potatoes – both pasta dishes are easy to make and tasty soul food for a limited budget. With memories of foods in Poland, I made Pirogi, as it felt time consuming. Until I came across a copy of Terry H. Romero’s ‘Vegan eats world’. Very recommendable book indeed. The two recipes I tried were both working well and are both keepers. Following my version of pirogi and especially the awkward shaping process from an Indian Roti recipe if you have strong arms and countertop space a rolling pin may be more time saving… Get recipe here

The plant based traveller

PierogDSC_3873Last week I was in Poland. With mom, aunt and sister, we went as far as Gdansk in search of our family roots. I must confess, I am a miserable ambassador for vegan food when abroad. I don’t have a vegan food guide or plan ahead for 100% acceptable food. And Poland surely can be a challenge with its hearty old world fare. Noticing a vegetarian chain restaurant on the way, I also liked to discover local possibilities – for example Pirogi. In a good restaurant, there was always a meat free Pirogi version on the menu (this one here for example is with mushrooms and sauerkraut, others come with chanterelles or potatoes). Aside from the accidental bacon bit decor, eat your pirogi, dig into the surowka (raw cabbage salad,) that is complimenting many hot dishes and you have an acceptable meal, wash down with a local Vodka, repeat. Pirogi even come as dessert pastry filled with fruit blends. Definitely worth an experiment at home.

Picnic time

PestoDSC_3913.1Don’t use your stove during the heat. If you cook pasta beforehand, you will have a great base for cold pesto dishes for lunch and dinner that also work well as picnic and party food. This sundried tomato pesto tastes well warm or cold, if you add fresh tomato and basil, you will have a wonderful cold salad. My pesto will always have some wild herbs in it. See recipe

Orzo rediscovered

OrizoDSC_3558Warmer days ask for lighter fare. With humid heat around 32˚C the cold and succulent salads are back as a great alternative to warm lunches. Prepared in advance, they are easy to take anywhere and are very filling. Short before our first CSA pickup, salads seem to be harder to come by at Whole Foods. Armed with some watercress and organic chickweed from the garden, we have an even more nutritious alternative here… a new twist on the good old orzo salad. See recipe

Asian Spring

Marry Italian ‘prima vera’ with Asian sesame pasta, and you will get an Asian inspired dish that provides you with some fresh greens. Rice or buckwheat noodles give it an authentic Asian feel, but whole wheat linguine also works well. Snowpeas and scallions are just lighly sauteed and blended into the pasta with a sesame or spicey sauce. If available, you may also try fresh fava beans. See recipe 

Artisanal food

Whole wheat, artisanal pasta can be bought in bulk. As a package designer, I should be ashamed, but I love bulk from a NYC Co-op or from our local WF. This particular rough shaped whole wheat rigatoni for example feels very country like. Today I tested a quicky recipe for a vegan ‘Alfredo’, which compliments the taste of the pasta well. Home made pastas may also go well with following recipe. Different than the traditional ‘double trouble’ butter and cheese sauce, this cheesy sauce is a cold blend, poured over the hot al dente pasta and blended with blanched spinach. You may just chop the spinach and blend it in raw, but I like to blanch to remove some oxalic acid and make it more tender. The rather wintery recipe relies on dried herbs, but by all means, add fresh minced garlic if you have time… a very quick and satisfying dish. See recipe

Alternative grains

Another wheat alternative is Buckwheat, also called Kashi. The name comes from its resemblance to the triangular, but bigger beechnuts. A short growing season makes buckwheat perfect for colder climates or as a second crop. Historically, with increased output of wheat and other grains in colder climates, buckwheat has lost its importance over time, but has become recently more popular  as they offer an alternative to a gluten free diet. In general, it is a good idea to include buckwheat in our diet. Recipes I have seen use buckwheat pasta together with vegetables as a salad. To avoid eating the dish cold in this season, I lightly sauteed the vegetables and topped everything with marinated, fried tofu. See recipe

Swabian delicacies

Spätzle are the German answer to Gnocchi! The popular board scraped or machine sliced fresh pasta, traditionally from Swabia, is flavored with spinach or cheese. Above picture shows the spinach style, which indeed looks as if someone slayed a dragon. There should be, other flavors possible. Just as the Gnocchi, they taste better freshly made. I veganized the recipe and also made a very convincing and tasty cheese sauce with it. Serve with salad and you will have a great lunch. Recipe

Gnocchi Time

Last time I made Gnocchi, I was still in college… I remember the sticky mess. To get a more manageable dough, we had added more and more flour, to almost double amount, but the easy to handle dough produced very heavy lumpy gnocchi. Plus the whole kitchen was dusted with flour… Continue reading

Tuscan Styles

Tuscan Food –  Simple dishes made into delicacies with natural ingredients and good wines. Light, landscape, the food of Tuscany, the dream of a rich and simple life… Marketing has been using ‘Tuscany’ to stimulate our ‘Back to Basics’ instinct. Even a line of cat food has been named Tuscan style… Tuscan foods are rich in olive oil, tomatoes, zucchini and cheese. Tuscan favorites are Bruschetta; a tomato toast appetizer or Ribolleta, a vegetable bean soup. Following is a ‘Tuscan’ Salad with tomatoes, sauteed vegetables and basil; it contains orzo pasta and can be served warm. Get the recipe

French Country Style

What shall we do with all the pesto?  Besides serving with Ravioli or other pastas, or spread on bread with tomatoes, I found this french twist… The french ‘Soupe au Pistou’ uses the pesto (Pistou) to flavor soups, here a mixed country style vegetable soup with pasta. A very convincing mix with early Spring vegetables and lots-a garlic. See recipe

A Super Bowl – or how do veg’ns get enough protein

Real men need protein!  Usually the last argument against a plant based diet, as nutrition pyramids list animal food equal to protein, the Avantgarde may add soybeans to the list. Other foods that also contain protein however, are listed elsewhere as vegetables, grains or nuts. Most mushrooms for example have around 20-30% of protein by dry weight… To see if I am getting ‘enough’ protein in my diet, I did some math:  Continue reading

Pasta Prima-Winter

Channel the Tuscan sun with a light and quick pasta sauce, Primavera style, veganized and winterized. In a NY winter, the right mix of early vegetables might be hard to come by, besides I never liked too much watery summer squash. Just take little handfuls of vegetables you have at hand in winter. A cup of mushrooms, even dried and rehydrated ones; Winter roots such as carrots, parsnips, celery; Chopped and frozen parsley. I was lucky to find some green asparagus and tomatoes. Together it blends to a nice real Pasta Prima-Winter. Btw. did you know that whole wheat pasta is a great source of protein? See recipe

Shades of green

Nordic wisdom has it that only witches can grow parsley. To get through the winter, my new year’s resolution is to plant more herbs this spring! Will my parsley survive the frost this time? Parsley from the freezer can be used for a great winter pesto. If you want a quick and creamy, but light killer version, try this one with avocado. A good reason to challenge your food processor. Whole wheat pasta with pesto gets the taste from avocado, frozen herbs, garlic of course, and is topped with freshly, wilted arugula. Try Me!

Veganize it!

Don’t throw away your old cookbook, veganize it! Some of our family recipes are worth keeping after replacing the fat dripping and cholesterol raising ingredients. The recently published book ‘Veganize it’ helps how to replace ingredients such as sugar, eggs, dairy and meat. I replaced the cream in this mushroom wine sauce from my favorite Pizza & Pasta cookbook, with coconut milk. The result is amazing.  See recipe

Hearty chickpea + pasta soup

A good bowl of soup is remedy for body and mind. Whoever came up with the term Hale&Hearty hit the nerve. With the chills in my back, I was experimenting with a recipe from the internet. The first version was not satisfying and did not have much flavor. I liked the idea of chickpeas with pasta and gave it another try a different pasta this time, some twist of ingredients for more flavor and more spaced cooking segments. The result will be a nice round soup with lots of flavor.  See recipe here

First autumn food

Fall season is here, 
our garden recovers from the summer heat. Leathery Greens such as kale, chard and bok choi is in high season again and I can see more mushrooms.
Mushroom season takes off with the more humid days in September, if not earlier. More local varieties become available. Once, a forage walk with the Wildman had us find real morels in Prospect Park. We are now planning to join COMA for a hike. Continue reading