Alas the only picture of this dish would be of two empty plates smeared with sauce and watched over by two burping, sated diners. It looks nice and it tastes great and if you want to see what it looks like then get off the computer and get into the kitchen. Now dammit!
This needs to be baked in a lidded dish large enough to lay out the pasta at the bottom of the dish. Assume 6 pieces of pasta for each person and test the dish size by laying out the right amount of pasta straight from the packet.
Ingredients (Serves two as a main meal)
- 1 tin chick peas (or approx 2.5 cups of home cooked chickpeas)
- 1 tin tomatoes
- Lumaconi pasta or other large pasta that can be stuffed. About 6 pieces each
- 1 large carrot, grated
- half a cup of celery, finely chopped
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1 large zuchinni
- 1 medium onion, crushed (put it through the garlic press. WARNING – onion juice squirted in your eye hurts)
- 3 to 4 large cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 tbl spn light miso
- 1 cup of white wine
- 1 to 2 cups of water or stock
- olive oil
- 1 tspn paprika
- 1/2 tspn smoked paprika
- 1/2 tspn cumin
- 1/2 tspn cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
- cracked pepper
- tamari sauce
- handful of fresh parsley, chopped
- sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 or 3 fresh bay leaves
- Lightly saute the chickpeas in a closed saucepan with a splash of olive oil with the garlic, onion, paprikas, cumin, and cayenne. Take off the heat and mash. Add a generous splash of tamari and the carrot, mix thoroughly and set aside until cool enough to handle the mix
- While the chickpea mix is cooling pour a generous splash of olive oil in the bottom of the baking dish. Put the oven on to warm. Chop the eggplant and zuchinni into large chunks. Chop the celery and the herbs, have a glass of wine, go feed a bird some seeds and whistle to them a bit. They’ll think you’re mad and pity you for not having wings but the gift of some seed to eat will see you good.
- Stuff the Lumaconi pasta with the chickpea mix and lay out the pasta at the bottom of the oiled baking dish. If there is any mix remaining just add to the dish.
- Top the pasta with the chopped herbs and the bay leaves
- Add the zuchinni, eggplant, and chopped celery. Add the miso and a generous grind of pepper
- Cover with the tomatoes
- Add the wine and water/stock
- Bake covered in a prewarmed medium oven for about an hour. Check about the 40 minute mark to make sure it is not drying out. If so add more water/stock.
If you don’t eat anything with a face nor anything that comes from something with a face then you can end up eating a lot of tomato based Italian food. How much? A LOT. The default meal cooked by a restaurant “chef” who couldn’t be bothered spending 3.764 minutes finding a decent vegan recipe is “Pasta in a tomato sauce, with whatever vegetables need to be used but always capsicum”. Don’t get me wrong, we love a good Spaghetti Bolognese in this house, but sometimes it is nice to have something different when taking the menu to Italia for the night. Something with a creamy sauce rather than a tomato sauce.
But how to dream of cream without playing milkmaid?
Yes…nuts….or to be more specific cashew nuts. Oh yes…
Soak raw cashews in water and then blend them and you get…cashew cream; another one of those unlikely little transformations that make cooking a joy. Cashew cream is a great base for cream based recipes whether sweet or savoury.
So…Vieni con me in cucina con i vostri anacardi e faremo una bella cena insieme (*)
Portate con voi (abbastanza per due)
- 1/2 cup of raw cashews
- half a dozen or so medium sized mushrooms, quartered
- your choice of: green beans, asparagus, broccoli spears, fresh peas, broad beans or whatever something green you like. In any case you want about an equal amount as you have of mushrooms. Chop into stir-fry type pieces
- one small onion, cut into large rings or quartered and separated.
- two cloves of garlic, minced
- a TBSP of light miso paste
- about two TSP of chopped, fresh rosemary
- about 1/4 of a cup of chopped, fresh flat leaf parsley
- one bay leaf
- 2 TSPN of ground pepper (this may seem excessive but the cream sauce dulls the heat a lot)
- one cup of white wine
- olive oil
- penne – use gluten free if desired (however much you think you’ll need; some people like a lot of pasta, some not so much. Go on…make a decision on your own)
- Before getting to the rest of the “method” – don’t forget to cook the pasta as per the manufacturer’s recommendation, timing the pasta to be ready whenever the following is done. Helpful tip: The steps related to making the creamed cashews, and mixing it into the saucy, wine mix can be done ahead of time, making it all much easier to get the timing right.
- Firstly, soak the cashews in water. Best to use freshly boiled water; cover the nuts and leave them for at least three hours. Oops!! You didn’t read this until it was WAY too late to leave them for 3 hours! Panic not and do what everyone else does…cheat. Put the nuts and water into a small, covered pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Regardless of how you got there…drain the nuts afterwards, retaining the water.
- To cream the cashews: place the soaked nuts in a Bamix Wet and Dry Processor or similar. You could use any food processor of course but something small like the aforementioned will work best as you’re not doing a high volume of material. Add a little of the water and blend until a fluffy, smooth and absolutely-no-solid-bits consistency is achieved. Keep adding a bit more of the water as needed, as you go along. If you run out of the reserved water just use some extra. Once done…put aside.
- In a small pot very lightly sauté the garlic and ground pepper in some olive oil. As soon as it is aromatic add the wine, the miso, the bay leaf, rosemary and half of the parsley. Dissolve the miso then continue to lightly simmer for a minute, then remove from the heat. Add the creamed cashews and mix thoroughly.
- In a heavy fry pan sauté the onion in some more olive oil until clear.
- Add the mushrooms and whatever green vegetables you decided on into the pan with the onion. Cook until just done – it is nice when the vegetables retain some crispness.
- Remove the vegetables from the heat and add the sauce to the vegetables along with the rest of the parsley and mix thoroughly. You will notice that the creamed cashew mix thickens somewhat when added to the hot pan; add a little more water to thin the mix if desired.
- Serve over the pasta.
(* this may or may not translate as “Come with me to the kitchen with your cashews and we will make a beautiful dinner together”)
Right, well that picture just about takes care of the ingredients list. Which just leaves me to blather on for a little while first, before we get to the bit about how to make this (Hint: use a blender).
Let’s play for a moment a game of word association using the word “Africa”. Rift valley. Origins of mankind (unless you believe in this version). Elephants. Bloody conflict. Colonial invasion. Lions. Despots. Diamonds. Apartheid. Famine.
How are we going, have you said “Roasted capsicum and tomatoes” yet? Thought not. Most people associate the foodstuff of Africa with the picture of horribly starving children and Bob Geldoff fund raising concerts. When the crops aren’t failing, the lands being bombed, or the various ethnic tribes are not being murdered and chased from their lands by religious nutters, invaders, diamond and oil seekers and assorted other examples of human scum this great, wide, wonderful land produces foodstuffs both wonderful and assorted. The legacy of this land to our taste buds is one so great we ought to prostrate ourselves at the feet of every passing native African.
In a very simple way, using ingredients common in the kitchen, you can sample one small slice of this legacy.
- One large red capsicum
- 250g semi sundried tomatoes
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1 small red onion
- 2 large red chillies
- Fresh coriander
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- De-seed and de-stalk the capsicum and lightly brush inside and out with (extra) olive oil. Roast in a medium oven until the skin will fairly easily peel off.
- Blend the roasted capsicum along with everything else until a smooth consistency is achieved.
That’s it. All done bar the eating. Serve as a condiment. Use it as a pasta sauce or spread on a pizza. Smear it on yourself if you’re feeling a little weird and raunchy. Just keep it in the fridge and seal it in the jar with a layer of coconut oil (or olive oil if you don’t have any of that). Preserved this way it ought to last 2-3 weeks before growing something unpleasant.
Just like La testa di verdure himself used to make in the old country!
What you’ll need to make the best vegan bolognese sauce ever:
- 1 block of tempeh – grated
- 1 carrot – grated
- 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
- 1 medium onion – finely chopped
- 4 large fresh tomatoes, chopped (or 1 tin of chopped tomatoes if you have to)
- 1 knob of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 small aubergine, cubed; or chopped mushrooms; or both if you’re hungry
- 2 tablspoons of tomato paste
- 2 tablspoons of miso paste
- 1 tablspoon fresh whole pepper corns (don’t substitute dried ones – must be fresh or the world will be consumed by Godzilla like monsters)
- 2 tablspoons dried seaweed
- 1 ½ cups of red wine; plus a glass for you – You’re Worth It!
- Fresh picked herbs – chopped; parsley, rosemary, thyme, basil, 3 bay leaves
- (Optional – 3 small hot, red chillies, chopped)
Fabbricazione dell’amore nella vostra cucina:
- Lightly sauté onions in a truly excessive amount of olive oil until clear
- Add garlic, and chillies and sauté for an additional minute; low heat
- Add tempeh and sauté for an additional minute. Be careful it doesn’t stick
- Dissolve tomato and miso pastes in over medium heat, with red wine and chopped tomatoes
- Once tomatoes have released some of their liquid, add all remaining ingredients
- Simmer on low heat for at least 45 minutes – covered. Alternatively, if cooking in advance simmer for 30 minutes, covered; then turn off heat and leave covered before reheating for 10 minutes to serve
Serve with your favourite pasta
Yes it is possible to create a completely vegan lasagna – not ‘vegetarian’ (with cheese).
The red layer
- 1/2 block of tempeh – grated
- 1 medium carrot – grated
- 1 medium onion – finely chopped
- 2 medium chopped tomatoes
- 1 knob of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 small aubergine, grated
- 2 tblspoons of tomato paste
- 2 tblspoons of miso paste
- 1 cup of red wine
- Fresh herbs – chopped; parsley, rosemary, thyme, basil
- (Optional – 2 small hot, red chillies, chopped)
The white layer
- 1 cup of cooked white beans (generally haricot or butter beans)
- Flour – amount of flour, oil, milk varies depending on size of cooking container
- Olive oil
- Soy milk
The green layer
- 1/2 cup of steamed spinach – blended or finely chopped
Plus – lasagne sheets
The red layer
- Lightly sauté onions in oil until clear
- Add garlic, and chillies and sauté for an additional minute
- Dissolve tomato and miso paste in over medium heat, with red wine
- Combine with all other ingredients in a large bowl
The white layer
- Blend beans to a smooth paste with a little soy milk
- Cook flour and olive oil over a low heat, stirring regularly, to a thick paste.
- Add soy milk to flour paste to create approximate consistency of thick (diary) cream.
- Add to bean paste and blend until combined thoroughly
Putting it all together
- Layer in a baking dish as per usual lasagna method ie. red layer, then lasagna pasta, then green layer, then white. Repeat stack – finishes with white on top
- Bake at 180c for approximately 45 minutes