Tag Archives: pasta

How to make vegan pesto out of anything*

3 May

(*almost)

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I can’t claim that there’s anything groundbreaking about my pesto recipe. It’s just the list of ingredients that I have stuck to my fridge that I tweaked a few times until I was happy with it. I’ve wanted to post the recipe for quite a while now to show how versatile it can be if you mix it up a little bit. Fresh herbs can be quite expensive unless you grow your own or find them in the reduced section, as can pine nuts. It’s really easy to switch out the ingredients for other things to suit your meal or your budget.

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In case you can’t read my writing, here’s the recipe (makes a generous amount for two):

  • One clove of garlic, mashed to a fine paste with a pinch of salt (don’t rely on your food processor to do this for you, pesto is best a bit chunky, and chunky raw garlic is not particularly pleasant)
  • 40g leaves
  • 20g nuts/seeds/legumes
  • Half a tablespoon lemon juice
  • Another pinch of salt and plenty of pepper
  • Two tablespoons of oil
  • One tablespoon (or more) of nooch

First, put just the nuts (or whatever you’re using) in the food processor on their own and pulse a couple of times to get them started.

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Then add the rest of the ingredients…

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… and pulse a few more times until it’s just blended (i.e. not a purée).

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Here are a few examples. First, the pea-sto mark 2 – peas, a 50:50 mix of mint and basil, and olive oil:

 

The super-vegan – pumpkin seeds, kale, and hemp oil:

Pasta with kale pesto and more kale #vegan

A post shared by Mrs Veg (@mrs_veg) on

 

The classic – toasted pine nuts, basil, and olive oil:

Pesto pasta with roast cauli, peppers, white beans and broad beans.

A post shared by Mrs Veg (@mrs_veg) on

 

The English – podded and cooked broad beans, watercress, and cold-pressed rapeseed oil (here it’s mixed in to some risotto and served with more watercress):

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Three quick and easy vegan pasta sauces

22 Mar

When I get back from work late, or tired, or both, it’s hard sometimes to motivate myself to cook something proper for dinner. I often find myself eating freezer junk or having a takeaway, when I’d much rather have something healthy. Here’s my solution. Pasta, whatever random ingredient I find in the fridge, and a quick and easy sauce. These three sauces take about a minute each to prepare, and can just be heated in the pan the pasta was cooked in, meaning no extra washing up. I can be slobbing in front of the TV in my tracky bottoms with some dinner within 20 minutes of getting home.

 

Garlic tahini sauce (serves 1):

  • 1 tablespoon each tahini, cold water, and nooch
  • 1 small clove of garlic, mashed to a fine paste with a generous pinch of salt

Mix all of the ingredients together in a little bowl or cup. Leave to stand for a few minutes while you cook some pasta and veggies. It might be a little lumpy at first but it will become smooth. Mix with the cooked pasta and veggies and serve.

 

Harissa and tomato sauce (serves 1):

  • 1 heaped teaspoon harissa paste
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered

Cook some pasta, and drain, reserving some of the liquid. Leave the pasta in the colander and put the pan back on the hob over a high heat. Throw in the cherry tomatoes, a splash of the pasta water, and the harissa paste. Let it bubble for a minute or so, until the tomatoes are beginning to break down and the harissa paste is mixed in with the water. Return the pasta and any other ingredients back to the pan, stir until everything is well coated with the sauce, and serve.

This recipe also works well with chipotle paste instead of harissa.

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Creamy mustard sauce (serves 1):

  • 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes
  • Half a tablespoon of plain flour
  • 75ml of cold water
  • A pinch of salt
  • Up to 1 tablespoon of grainy mustard

Before cooking the pasta, mix together the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl or cup. Leave to one side while you cook the pasta, so the flour can start absorbing the water. Cook some pasta, and drain. Leave the pasta in the colander and put the pan back on the hob over a high heat. Pour the sauce into the pan and stir it until it comes to the boil and thickens – this should take less than a minute. Return the pasta and any other ingredients back to the pan, stir until everything is well coated with the sauce, and serve.

Product review – Oatly oat drink

13 Aug

Oatly, the Swedish brand of oat milk, has recently rebranded. Their previously bland, generic packaging has been replaced by a quirky design that proudly shows off their ethical standpoint and the health benefits of oats, as well as their reduced environmental impact. The carton explains how they chose to use oats because they’re “tall and strong and full of goodness” to make a drink that is “like milk but made for humans”. Their independent, principled personality really comes across and that’s something to be admired.

But enough of that, what is Oatly actually like? It might sound a little strange but trust me, it’s lovely! It tastes like the milk that’s left in your bowl after eating muesli, it’s not chalky or porridgey at all. It can be used exactly the same as milk from cows. It’s delicious in a glass with some biscuits dunked in it. It’s perfect for cereal, obviously it’s particularly good for muesli or granola, and it’s Mr Veg’s favourite milk for making porridge.

Oatly really comes into its own when used in cooking or baking, working better than any other non-dairy milk I’ve tried. The flavour is mild enough that it doesn’t dominate the dish, you don’t have to worry about your cakes or sauces tasting of oats (unless you want them to of course). What’s more, Oatly is very stable, doesn’t split, and does a really great job of making things thick and creamy – I can only assume that this is something to do with the soluble fibre content.

As well as regular and organic Oatly, you can also buy chocolate Oatly, which is absolutely divine! As with plain Oatly, you can drink it straight or use it for cereal, porridge, or baking. You can also use it to make a luxurious thick milkshake by blending it with a frozen banana or, if you’re feeling less virtuous, a big scoop of dairy-free ice cream. Delish!

All non-dairy milks have their pluses and minuses, some work much better than others depending on what you’re using it for. The only disadvantage I’ve discovered about Oatly is that it doesn’t work as well in tea and coffee as some other plant milks. The taste is fine, but it separates slightly and tends to leave a strange residue in the bottom of the cup. Still, I think its many advantages outweigh this, and I would definitely recommend you give it a try.

What better way to demonstrate Oatly in cooking than to make some basic white sauce. It tastes the same as the real thing, and is just as thick and creamy, but without having to get any cows involved. My favourite use for white sauce is a good old-fashioned lasagne. The recipe I’ve given here is basic because I wanted to showcase the white sauce, but you could tuck extra veggies between the layers, or jazz up the red sauce with chillies or sun-dried tomatoes or whatever you fancy. I don’t particularly like vegan cheese so I topped mine with breadcrumbs instead, but you could use vegan cheese or ground cashews if you prefer.

Recipe – classic vegan lasagne (serves 2)

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 200g vegan mince
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 20g non-dairy margarine
  • 20g plain flour
  • 300ml Oatly
  • 4-6 sheets egg-free lasagne
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the red sauce, fry the onion in the oil over a medium heat until translucent and starting to colour, about 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute or so without colouring. Add the mince, tomatoes, tomato puree, and oregano, then leave to simmer while you make the white sauce.

For the white sauce, melt the margarine in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Add the flour and cook for a further couple of minutes. Add the Oatly very slowly, stirring all the time until you have a smooth sauce. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes until it’s nice and thick.

Season both sauces to your liking and remove from the heat.

Now to the fun part – building the lasagne. Spread one third of the red sauce over the bottom of your lasagne dish (you might notice in the photo that I use a loaf tin – it’s the perfect size and shape), cover with a layer of lasagne sheets, then spread one third of the white sauce over the top of that. Repeat two more times until you have used everything, ending in a layer of white sauce. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and more dried herbs over the top.

Bake in the oven at 200°C for 30-40 minutes, until light brown on top. Leave to stand for 5-10 minutes before serving – it will be easier to dish up whole slices that way. Serve with plenty of garlic bread.

Disclaimer: I have been asked to write this post by Oatly but as with all of the posts on my blog all opinions are my own. For more information on Oatly please see their website: http://www.oatly.com/.

Chuna pasta

2 Aug

When I was a student I practically lived on tuna pasta. Like a lot of mums of students, mine used to give me care packages to make sure I was eating properly, whenever I went to stay with my parents there was always random things like pasta and tuna in the bottom of my wardrobe. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss tuna, but the idea of eating an endangered species doesn’t really appeal so much these days.

There are millions of versions of vegetarian “tuna” salad recipe online, subbing chickpeas for the tuna. To be honest it’s nice, but doesn’t quite say tuna to me – there seems to be something missing. I kind of stumbled across this tweak to the recipe by accident. I’ve tried a few recipes for tahini pasta before, and a few other pastas with beans, and I started to wonder if I combined the two ideas I might be able to make mock tuna. I think I got it right here, the tangy, nutty, creaminess of the tahini and lemon sauce converts it from chickpea pasta to chuna pasta!

I like to add sweetcorn because tuna and sweetcorn is a classic combination, but you could add anything you fancy. I think a big handful of olives or some capers would be particularly gorgeous.

Recipe (serves 2):

For the tahini and lemon sauce

  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For everything else

  • 150g (dry weight) pasta
  • One small onion, sliced in thin half-moons
  • 150g cooked chickpeas (about two thirds of a tin)
  • 150g sweetcorn

For the sauce, mix together the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside while everything else is cooking. It might be a bit lumpy or split to start with, but if you leave it for ten minutes or so it will become completely smooth.

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. If you’re using fresh sweetcorn, throw it in with the pasta about a minute before the end of the cooking time to quickly cook it.

While the pasta is cooking, fry the onion in a splash of oil over a medium heat until translucent and just starting to colour, about five minutes. Roughly mash or chop the chickpeas until there are no whole beans left, but don’t completely puree them.

Drain the cooked pasta and return to the pan with the sweetcorn, chickpeas, cooked onion, and the sauce. Stir over a medium heat until warmed through.

Two-soup Sunday, part one – any veg minestrone

18 Aug

I love soup. It’s healthy, filling, usually cheap, easy to make, requires minimal thought and co-ordination, and best of all, you can put pretty much anything in it. Making soup is a lovely calm activity for a gentle Sunday morning, and if you make a massive batch you’ll have a couple of days worth of packed lunch for work too.

Minestrone is the King of versatility. It surprises me that most recipes give a set list of vegetables with precise quantities. Surely it’s more fun and more practical to just throw in whatever seasonal vegetables you have to hand?! It does make my recipe look a bit strange, but that’s just how I like to do things. The point is, if you open the fridge and feel a bit baffled by the random selection of veggies inside, minestrone is a quick and tasty solution.

Recipe (serves 4-6)

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • a couple of cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped (completely optional, but almost obligatory in the Veg house)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or any other herb that works well with what you’ve got)
  • diced fresh veggies – a dinner plate piled fairly high is about the right amount (or 2 carrots, 2 courgettes, 1 red pepper, and a handful of broad beans if you want to follow a list)
  • 120g small pasta or broken spaghetti
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)
  • 1 tin any kind of white beans (235g drained weight)
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan with the lid on, sweat the onion in the oil over a medium-low heat for up to 10 minutes, without colouring.

Add the garlic, chilli, herbs, and vegetables, and sweat with the lid on for another 5-10 minutes, again without colouring.

Add the pasta, tomatoes, drained beans, stock, and tomato puree, and simmer for a further 15-20 minutes, until the pasta and vegetables are tender.

Check the seasoning and serve. Top with croutons, cheese, toasted pine nuts, or pesto, or enjoy it naked.

This keeps well in the fridge for a few days but be warned – the pasta will gradually soak up the liquid and it will become less soupy over time, but still utterly delicious!

My quest for vegan parmesan

30 Jul

When I first started cutting back on cheese, I bought a dairy-free parmesan substitute from the supermarket. It was a pale yellow powder that sort of had the smell of parmesan but none of the flavour. When sprinkled onto pasta, it would instantly dissolve into the pasta sauce without adding anything to the taste. It was a major disappointment. Could I really manage without dairy if that meant I couldn’t have a little bit of something cheesy on my pasta?

Not long after, I discovered nutritional yeast flakes, AKA nooch. Nooch gives a much more satisfying cheesy flavour, doesn’t disappear into the sauce (unless you want it to), and can be used to flavour other things, such as vegan cheese sauce or scrambled tofu. For a long time it was the best vegan parmesan substitute I could find.

That is until I made an accidental discovery late one night, when home alone. I’d made some tasty vegetable pasta, and couldn’t decide whether to sprinkle it with nooch or gomasio[1], so I went for a 50:50 mix of both and bingo! A satisfying parmesan-like topping for pasta.

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The gomasio adds a slightly salty nuttiness to the nooch, converting it from mild cheesiness to a fairly convincing substitute. What’s more, it adds a tiny bit of extra protein, vitamins, and minerals to your meal. I feel like my mission is complete, I’m over the moon! [Insert your own cheese pun here.]


[1] Gomasio is a mix of ground sesame seeds with salt. It’s really easy to make your own if you have a blender or spice grinder, but you can buy it in a jar too.

Harissa spiced roast vegetable pasta

17 Jun

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I’ve not posted very much over the last few weeks because I’ve been super busy at work, which completely saps my creativity. Things are calming down now, and I’ve finally got my cooking mojo back! I’ve been celebrating today with this simple spicy veggie pasta (recipe below).

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Recipe (serves 2)

  • A selection of veggies. I used onion, tomato, aubergine/eggplant, and courgette/zucchini. Other good options include squash, sweet potato, pepper or fennel.
  • Two tablespoons oil
  • 150g wholemeal pasta
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Chop the vegetables into roughly bite-sized pieces, transfer to a roasting tin, toss in the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender and starting to brown around the edges, around half an hour.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and return to the pan. Add the harissa and tomato puree and the roasted vegetables. Mix well, adding a splash of water if it looks a bit dry.

Serve with some tasty protein, such as beans or marinated grilled tofu. We were feeling slightly less classy than that today, so we topped it with some vegetarian hot dogs. Yum.

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