Pasta Puttanesca

Here’s a nice, simple dinner–pasta with puttanesca sauce–for which you likely don’t even need a recipe, and the only reason to post about this is that it makes a good example of how to take an old favorite and make it more nutritious.

I’ve always loved puttanesca sauce–a spicy tomato sauce–and it retains its wonderful flavor without adding anchovies. I add olives in addition to capers, and to increase the mineral content of the meal, a 1/2 cup of sliced fresh mushrooms that cooked with the sauce and made it chunky and delicious. What else is in there? strained tomatoes, garlic cloves, thinly sliced onions, dried herbs of various kinds, and half of a serrano pepper.

These days I favor lentil pasta. I don’t eat it frequently (it’s expensive, and why not simply eat lentils?) but it’s a nice once-in-a-while treat. It certainly packs more of a nutritional punch than the wheat equivalent (lots of protein and iron.)

And finally, more protein and some B12 via my vegan parmesan (macadamia nuts, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and salt). Some nutritional yeast brands add B12 to their formulas, which is great!

Bon appetit!

Marjoram-Pepper Pasta Sauce

At the end of yesterday’s faculty meeting, my colleague Marsha hollered: “Anyone here cook?” I immediately waved my hands and hollered back: “Me me me!” Marsha very graciously gifted me with a big bag of fresh marjoram from her garden. It turns out that the crows eat all her other herbs, but leave the marjoram alone. šŸ™‚

Well, I don’t know about the crows’ taste in herbs, but I *love* marjoram, and its wonderful aroma and flavor are showcased at their best in this recipe – a vegetable-packed, spicy pasta sauce. I served it atop spiralized zucchini, but you can of course substitute the pasta of your choice.

1/4 cup water or vegetable broth
1 cup leeks–green part or mixed
3 garlic cloves
1 can diced tomatoes
2 red bell peppers
1 small eggplant
about 8 green olives, pitted
2 tsp capers
generous handful of fresh marjoram
pinch smoked paprika
optional: tofu cubes or chickpeas

In a wok or skillet, heat up water or broth and add sliced leeks and garlic cloves. Saute until fragrant. Then, add peppers, eggplant, and tofu cubes or chickpeas. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, then add the diced tomatoes, olives, capers, marjoram, and paprika. Lower the heat and continue cooking until the peppers are soft and the tofu is flavorful. Serve atop the pasta of your choice.

Vegetable-Based Mac ‘n’ Cheese

This vegan “cheese” sauce is very easy to make and absolutely delicious. And the surprising part is – no soy or cashew is involved!

The recipe comes verbatim from Brand New Vegan, where you can find many such delights. I simplified it a bit for you and upped the carrot content at the expense of the potatoes. This will have a fair amount of protein on account of the nutritional yeast, but if you’d like more protein you can make lentil pasta to go with it.

2 medium-sized potatoes
5-6 medium-sized carrots
1/2 water from cooking the potatoes and carrots
Ā¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tsp quince vinegar (the original recipe called for apple cider vinegar, but we ran out
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 cloves garlic 
1/2 tsp brown mustard
1/4 tsp turmeric

Cut potatoes and carrots into cubes and boil in water for 10 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer potatoes and carrots to blender and add 1/2 cup water from the pot, and pulse to mix. Then, add all other ingredients and blend until smooth.

Cook pasta (I like lentil pasta for this – nutritious and yummy) and drain; return pasta to pot. Pour sauce over pasta and mix well.

Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

It’s been a quiet solstice here, and I’ve been using new recipes. For some reason, I’m more attracted to simple ingredients these days, as close as possible to their original form, so there are lots of salads and soups and not a lot of mock animal things. In this recipe, too, I resisted adding meat or cheese analogues of any kind, and I think you’ll find the simplicity refreshing.

The recipe is adapted from this Forks Over Knives recipe, which, in its turn, comes from Thug Kitchen. I had winter vegetables, rather than the summer ones in the recipe, so I used those, and I added a half-cup of garbanzo beans. I’d love to try the original sometime, but I worked with the bounty I had and the result was spectacular.

1 cup brown rice pasta spirals
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup small broccoli florets
4 asparagus stems, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 leek, sliced into rings
1 red pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup cooked garbanzo beans
juice from 1 lemon
1 tsp marjoram
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Start the water for the pasta. In the meantime, heat the oven to 350 degrees and place a silicone mat on a baking sheet. Place the vegetables, the garlic, and the garbanzos on the sheet in one layer. Drizzle with the lemon juice and sprinkle the marjoram. Mix a bit with your hands to make sure the lemon is everywhere. Place in oven for 20-25 mins.

In the meantime, cook the pasta, drain it, and return to the pot. When the vegetables are done, add them to the pasta and drizzle balsamic vinegar. Mix and eat to your heart’s content.

Collard Pesto and Caprese

To your left is a nice, summery Italian meal: pasta with a Pesto of Hidden Value and magical caprese. All of this is vegan, with a helpful hand from Miyoko’s Kitchen!

First, the clandestine pesto. I added an entire giant bunch of raw collard greens to the classic recipe, to which it adds some intense green color and a bit of flavor. It’s the newest addition to my old bag of tricks–I try to add leafy greens to everything I make, partly because of their fabulous calcium content–and pesto is the ideal delivery vehicle for it.

To make this marvel, you’ll need:

1 bunch collard greens
4 large garlic cloves
3 tbsp pine nuts
1 cup basil leaves
olive oil (in a bottle that allows drizzling)
a dollop of Miyoko’s Kitchen Double Cream Chive

Cut collard greens into ribbons and place in food processor. Process until very thinly chopped. Add garlic, pine nuts, and basil, and continue processing; slowly drizzle olive oil from the top as you’re processing everything else until it reaches a consistency you like. Add a few small chunks of Miyoko’s Kitchen cheese, if you like, and continue processing until more or less homogenous. Mix with pasta and serve.

Second, the caprese: this salad was one of the grand loves of my pre-vegan life, and today a marvelous thing happened: I received my shipment of Miyoko’s buffalo-style vegan mozarella. We had a giant heirloom tomato lying about, so I sliced it, placed a piece of mozarella on each slice, and decorated each with a basil leaf.

Now that I’ve eaten this salad I can happily say that veganism does not entail even a shred of sacrifice, and all my culinary pleasures are well satisfied without cruelty. Thank you, Miyoko!

Orzo with Vegetables

When I was a kid, one of my favorite comfort foods was “ptitim”, otherwise known as orzo or by the misleading name “Israeli couscous”. This short and springy wheat pasta is unrelated to the original semolina couscous, and actually has an interesting recession-era history. In the 1950s, during the age of austerity in Israel, Prime Minister David Ben Guryon ordered the Osem factory to come up with a cheap alternative to rice. Ptitim came to be known as “Ben Guryon rice.” They are now manufactured in various shapes.

Here, sometimes people cook them like pasta–boiling in a lot of water, then draining–but that’s not the best method, I think. This basic recipe is pretty easy, but today I dressed it up with lots of wonderful vegetables straight out of our CSA box. Here’s what I made:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion
3 carrots (I used one purple, one orange, and one pale yellow)
1 summer squash
5 mushrooms
1 cup whole grain orzo
1 cup boiling water
1 tbsp blackened rub
1 handful fresh parsley

Heat olive oil in a small pot (and keep the lid nearby). Thinly chop carrots, onion, squash, and slice mushrooms. Saute onions until translucent, then add other vegetables and orzo. Cook in olive oil for about 2-3 minutes, or until the orzo begins to be a bit golden. Then, add the water and the blackened rub, lower the heat and cover the pot. Cook for about 10-15 minutes or until all water is absorbed; if water is absorbed and orzo is still a bit too al-dente-ish for you, add more water and cook a few more minutes. When all water is absorbed, fluff up with a fork, then put the lid back on for a couple of minutes. Serve with fresh parsley sprinkled on top.

Vegan Mac-n-Cheese

I was craving something creamy and delicious this evening and settled on a vegan version of mac-n-cheese. This is not my recipe; I made it using Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s classic recipe.

A couple of small substitutions: the pasta is Tolerant lentil pasta (boosting the protein component of the meal) and the seasoning, rather than standard pizza seasoning, is Pike Place dipping herbs. I didn’t sautee the onion and garlic in oil before adding to the blender (I’m sure it would have improved the sauce, though not by much, as it was damn tasty as it was). Other than that, the recipe’s there and I can attest that the results are, indeed, comforting, creamy, and fantastic.


I’ve just put on the stove a version of one of my favorite pasta sauces. made with a tomato base and some vegan sausage. This particular version has the distinction of containing everything we have left over at home, because our fresh CSA box arrives tomorrow. Making the most of it, I’m using Pomi chopped tomatoes for a delicious and hearty meal.

6 green onion stalks
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp olive oil
10 large button mushrooms
2 Field Roast sausages
1/2 container (or 1 cup) Pomi
1 cup water
big handful containing all or any of the following: parsley, rosemary, oregano, sage
1/2 tsp paprika

Chop onions and garlic thinly and give ’em a minute in the wok with olive oil. Proceed to slice mushrooms and vegan sausages and add to the wok. Follow up with paprika. Give it a spin until the mushrooms and sausage begin to brown. Add pomi, water, and herbs, lower heat somewhat, and simmer until sauce thickens. Serve atop pasta, rice, quinoa, or anything, really.

The Leaning Tower of Pesto

(pic to come)

Yes, we’re still jetlagged. But when has that stopped us from eating?

Meals are still regularly served at Hadar and Chad’s home, even if they consume their breakfast at 3am, their lunch, well at about 8am, and their dinnner anywhere in between. And since our Chubeza delivery included fresh basil, and we were very hungry, something had to be done immediately.

Fortunately, our food processor was up to the task, and we were able to produce two dangerously unbalanced bowls of Tinkyada brown rice pasta with fresh, simple, homemade pesto. I know, not a remarkable feat. And yet, here it is. I wish I could comment on how well this keeps in the fridge, but as I said, we were hungry, and the entire batch was immediately consumed.

Homemade Pesto Sauce

2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup excellent quality olive oil
3 tablespoons pine nuts
3 large garlic cloves
1 tablespoon salt

Mix in food processor (adding small batches of stuff at a time). Then, mix with pasta. Eat, enjoy, rest in simplicity.