Wednesday, 24 October 2012

A Quick, Easy, Hearty Pasta Recipe (And a business update!)

It all begins with pizza...
 
Last night for dinner we had fantastic pizza, and if there's one thing I can say about fantastic pizza, it's that sure as anything, the next day, I crave fantastic pasta! Great pizza is highly dependent on the base being fantastic - and it is amazing the difference using a seemingly only slightly different recipe can make. If you haven't already - try The Sexy Vegan's pizza dough. I know it takes 90 minutes, then 40 minutes, but just between you and me - you can leave it to rest 60 minutes, then 20 minutes, and it'll turn out just fine. But, I digress.

All day I had these images of pasta floating through my head. Simple, fresh, spring vegetable-y pasta, bursting with rich, umami flavours, lots of colours, a silky, light, almost non-existent sauce, and bow tie (farfalle) pasta. I don't know why it had to be bow tie, but it damn well had to be. And white. None of the normal wholemeal spirals I usually eat (I know! I bet you didn't imagine me eating wholemeal pasta alongside my beer and hedonism, but I do!!). A nice soft gluten-free pasta would work wonderfully in this, also. I also wanted a sauce that was cooked in a fry pan or wok, and nicely browned. So I whipped this up, and it fit the bill beautifully.

Simple Spring Vegetable Pasta


This dish is fairly customisable - use your choice of protein (I like a duo - seitan and legumes, but instead of seitan - some italian-style marinated tofu would work well!), the freshest, most flavoursome vegetables available and a pasta with a bit of texture to bring it all together. I recommend the addition of some lightly toasted pine nuts or walnuts, for a delicious crunch.

This dish is fairly light, so it is important to use high heat and follow the method, to coax out as much flavour as possible from the ingredients. 

Ingredients:
500g farfalle pasta (gluten-free if desired)
1 tablespoon olive oil
One green capsicum (bell pepper), sliced into strips
One red capsicum (bell pepper), sliced into strips
2 cups smoky, spicy seitan, cubed (or your choice of protein - to make gluten-free or if you'd like to use all legumes, perhaps add some chilli, smoked paprika and a sprinkle of gluten-free soy sauce or tamari for a quick burst of flavour, and double the other herbs)
1 x 400g (14 ounce) can of diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped finely
One red/spanish onion, roughly chopped
1/4-1/2 cup of white wine, or vegetable broth
1 x 400g (14 ounce) can cannelini beans, rinsed (approx 1 & 1/2 cups, cooked)
1/4 cups pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped
2 cups baby spinach leaves, washed 
1/4 - 1/2 cup of water reserved when draining cooked pasta
2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
Optional: 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, or chopped toasted walnuts
Olive oil and seasoning, for serving

Preparation:
1. Start boiling plenty of water for pasta (classically, ridiculous amounts of water are called for, but I generally find double enough!)
2. Peel and chop your garlic, prepare and chop your vegetables.
If you are using the optional toasted pine nuts or walnuts, and I do recommend that you do, either spread them in a single layer in a frying pan and toss regularly over medium heat, watching carefully to ensure that they do not burn, or spread on a sheet of baking paper in an 180C (350F) oven, tossing occasionally. Remove and set aside.
3. Heat a large frypan (I use a wok) over high heat, and add the olive oil to heat.

Method:
1. Add the capsicum to the pan, and toss over high heat, until lightly charred in corners, shiny, and beginning to soften (approximately 5 minutes).
2. Add a drizzle more oil, and brown seitan and capsicum for approximately another 5 minutes, tossing regularly. 
3. Add pasta to boiling water (my farfalle suggests that it takes 12 minutes - but I recommend checking it at 10 minutes - you want it al dente, not sloppy!)
4. Pour the can of tomatoes into the pan, and stir regularly over very high heat until browned, thickened, and almost dry (approximately 5 minutes).
5. Add salt, oregano, basil, onion and garlic, and stir briskly for approximately 1 minute.
6. Whilst maintaining high heat, add 1/4-1/2 cup white wine, or vegetable broth, to moisten the ingredients and scrape to deglaze the pan - and allow to evaporate.
7. Stir in the cannelini beans and olives, and heat through.
8. Reduce the heat to medium whilst adding the spinach, stirring and allowing to lightly wilt.
9. Scoop out 1-4 to 1/2 cup of starchy pasta-boiling water, and add to the sauce mixture to achieve desired consistency - make it a *little* wetter than you think will be necessary - it will disappear quickly!
10. Drain pasta, and add to wok with sauce, stirring until lusciously combined.
11. Stir in balsamic vinegar to pasta and sauce. If using, add pine nuts or walnuts, and allow to gently heat through.
12. Season to taste with additional salt, adding pepper or nutritional yeast as desired.
13. Serve! Drizzle each serving with a glug of olive oil (don't dare leave it dry!), stirring through to ensure desired sauce consistency. If you're lucky enough to have homemade vegan parmesan (from Miyoko Schinner's excellent Artisan Vegan Cheese book), now is the time to effortlessly Microplane (yes, I would do advertisements for Microplanes if they asked) on top.

Enjoy!

Thank you to all who have reached out with well-wishes for the business. We are very, very busy, and getting excellent feedback, which has absolutely warmed my heart, and keeps me inspired. For more details (and photos) of what we are up to - check out our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/deliciousregardless - or, for those of you on Twitter, you can follow us @DeliciousRegard .

Take care of each other!







3 comments:

  1. This sounds wonderful — light but rich with flavor. It almost makes me believe that it WILL be spring here one day, too. Happy spring! And congratulations on the success of your business, though I never doubted you would be very well-received. It was a brave venture.

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  2. This looks amazing, and I sure wish it were spring here. I am a pasta-holic, and I like the traditional, semolina kind which I think is not as bad as everyone asserts, provided youhave it like you made it--with plenty of veggies and served in a proper (read: Not American) sized portion.

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  3. I get pasta-cravings too and this would definitely make me happy at the end of a day!

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