Monthly Archives: January 2019

Cheese is for the weak

Knowing what vegetables you’re using is also for the weak. Apparently. Because I just made a really nice pasta with some leafy greens of unknown identity – no idea what they were when I picked them up in the store, fried them in olive oil and garlic, or when I just took a bite – tasty though! So if you decide to make this recipe, I wholeheartedly recommend to go to the (super)market and choose something from the edible plants section that is made of leafs and is green (maybe not lettuce though…)

For those of you wandering what utensils I was using the eat my pasta: it’s a spoon.

Pasta with leafy greens and chickpeas

Ingredients for three people [1]
punnet of cherry tomatoes
pasta for three, ~225 g (I used a mix of wholewheat and plain fusili)
50-100g pine nuts (depends how nutty you want to be, harhar)
chili flakes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
leafy greens ~200 g
can of chickpeas
100 mL soy cream
2 tbsp nutritional yeast (= nooch)
olive oil, pepper, sail

Preheat the oven to 200*C (fan oven). Put cherry tomatoes in a roasting tray and drizzle over a good amount of olive oil, and sprinkle with pepper and salt. Once your oven is hot, bake the tomatoes for about 20 minutes. [2]

Boil your pasta for as long as it needs and add some salt and olive oil to the boiling water if you fancy feeling like you know what you’re doing. Drain when done and put the boiled pasta back into the pan. (You can do most of the rest of the recipe while the pasta boils.)

Put a large frying pan on medium heat and roast your pine nuts. Be careful to move them around in the pan almost constantly as they burn quickly. When they’re browned take them out and put aside for now. Heat up olive oil in the pan and fry some chili flakes and the minced garlic. Add the leafy greens and stir fry for five minutes on low to medium heat. Add the chickpeas (without the liquid [3]), salt and pepper and stir for a minute or so. Poor in the soy cream, stir in the yeast flakes, and leave on the heat for a bit longer so that the cream is warm as well. Then add the mixture and the roasted tomatoes (with roasting oil) to the pasta. [4] Done!

Notes

[1] You guessed it, me today, me at lunch time and another me in the near future! Unless you make me an offer now I suppose.
[2] If you like garlic, add a whole clove of garlic or two to the roasting tomatoes. I don’t think it matters much for the tomatoes but the roasted garlic is super nice to eat straight out of the skin.
[3] You can save the liquid from the can of chickpeas – it’s called aquafaba – and use it as an egg white replacement. I like to make chocolate mousse with it (melt some chocolate with a pinch of salt, whip up the aquafaba, then add some powdered sugar and whip some more until stiff, stir in the chocolate, divide over glasses or something and let set in the fridge overnight).
[4] It took me 20 minutes to cook this dish, which seems to imply that it took me zero minutes to prepare the tomatoes and mix everything together. I actually cut the over time for the tomatoes a bit short because I was pretty hungry. If you want to time everything perfectly and not have your pasta get cold while you’re waiting for the tomatoes, I’d recommend waiting for five minutes after they’ve gone in the over before boiling the pasta and doing everything else.

Happy New Lasagna!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a great New Year’s Eve, and if you didn’t, don’t worry about it, it was just a Monday night except with a lot of expectations 😉

Speaking of expectations, what do you think of when somebody says the word “lasagna”? I once learned that to most people, this means layered pasta with tomato-meat sauce and cheese, whereas I had always known it with a vegetable filling (and bechamel with parmesan). Since I went vegan I’ve had to reinvent it. I still like it, so it’s a happy new lasagna.
It’s also a pretty good meal for serving a lot of people (or just for myself, me tomorrow, maybe a bit for someone else, and the rest for me again) , so I decided to make some for the party last night. I’ve heard some good things about it and I’ve been asked for the recipe (succes!), so here you go. It’s not the quickest or easiest recipe (the bechamel being the main cause of both these things), but trust me it’s worth it.

Lasagna

ingredients for one over dish, feeds 4-6 people
lasagna (the pasta)
olive oil
—- filling —- 1
onion
3 garlic cloves
courgette
500g passata di pomodoro
red wine (optional)
can of (green) lentils (or cook your own)
200g spinach (I used fresh but frozen should be fine too)
salt, pepper, mixed herbs (dried oregano, basil, that sort of thing)
—-bechamel —- 2
30g vegan butter/margerine
~3 heaped tbsp plain flour
400mL almond milk (or soy or oat…)
200g grated vegan cheeze (I used violife block)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes (engivita)

Filling Chop the onion and finely mince the garlic. Cut the courgette in small-ish pieces. Put a large pan (preferably cast-iron or other thick pan) on medium high heat and add some olive oil once it’s hot, then fry the onion for a few minutes. Add the garlic, stir, then add the courgette.
After frying for about five minutes, add the wine – if using – and the passata di pomodoro. Also stir in salt, pepper and mixed herbs. Add in the spinach, rince the lentils and add them as well. Have a taste of the filling to see if it needs more salt/pepper/herbs.

Bechamel Put a saucepan on medium heat and melt in the butter. Then turn the heat low and stir the flour through the melted butter, the clumpy stuff you get it called a roux. Add a little bit of nut milk and stir, it gets absorbed into the roux. Add a bit of milk again and so on, switch to a whisk once the clump becomes more liquid4. Add in the rest of the milk and keep whisking while the sauce thickens. Switch to a large spoon to stir in the grated cheeze and yeast flakes.

Build your lasagna. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees celsius (fan oven). Take a low and wide over dish, and start with a very thin layer of your tomato filling5, then a layer of lasagna (it’s okay to break the sheets to fill the shape of the dish). Spread half your filling on top of the pasta, then poor half your bechamel on top of that. Repeat with another layer of pasta, filling, bechamel. Try to cover the top of the lasagna with the bechamel to keep the filling from spilling out too much, spread using a spoon if needed. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes (check the top doesn’t become blackened or dark brown, you may need to turn down the heat a little). Done!

1] This is one of those recipes where I might as well write “veg” in the ingredients list, since you can swap in basically anything you like for the filling. For example, peas or olives work really nicely as well.
2] The quantities for the bechamel sauce are a horrible guesstimate, sorry. If you find your sauce is too thick, just add some more milk. If you find it’s too thin and it really doesn’t thicken after cooking it for a while, that’s a bit tricky since just adding lour makes it clumpy. You can either live with it and hope melting in the cheese makes it thick enough (it just needs to not seep through your vegetable layer), or make a new roux of butter and flour in a separate pan, then bit by bit add the bechamel you already have in.
3] The spinanch may not all fit at once, but it reduces a lot once it’s heated. So just add in handful after handful and stir through the sauce until the next batch fits. If using frozen spinach, also add it at this stage but it’ll take longer since it needs to thaw.
4] You can use a whisk for all of this, but I find using a spoon for the first bit easier since the clumpy roux tends to get stuck inside the whisk. You can also add more milk at a time once the first clumpiness is overcome.
5] The purose of the layer is to make it easier for the bottom layer of pasta to cook; since it’s the liquid in the filling that cooks it.