Category Archives: Pasta & Grain

Delicious vegan no-fat main dishes!

Linguine with Truffle-dried Tomatoes and Braised Cabbage

Linguine with Truffle-dried Tomatoes and Braised Cabbage

Weekly trip to the market.  Sale items: Giant cabbages, flats of very large ripe tomatoes, Washington state apples.   What do all these things have in common?  Well, combine them with linguine, peas and some rich truffle-infused salt, and you will know that this recipe is far better than the sum of its parts.  The parts take a little effort though, so have patience and you will be rewarded!

You will need to make some Truffle-dried Tomatoes and some Braised Cabbage with Washington Apples and Onions. Truffle salt imparts a very subtle richness to the tomatoes that really makes them special for anything they are used in. I use the salt in both the tomatoes and in the pasta water, and it truly changes the experience of this dish, so splurge if you can.  If not, you can replace with regular salt and you’ll still have a tasty entrée.  I’ve used a nice black truffle-infused salt that I buy in small quantities at my local Thriftway, but you can find it online at Amazon, Saltworks, and many other sources. I like to buy in small quantities for freshness and affordability, so look at your favorite specialty foods market.  Once you have these parts, you can quickly assemble this entrée for a cold autumn evening.  Serve with a nice glass of full-bodied red wine or pour some crisp non-alcoholic San Pellegrino Limonata in a beautiful glass and enjoy with your loved one.

Linguine with Truffle-dried Tomatoes and Braised Cabbage

1/2 lb. dried linguine
1-2 tsp. black truffle infused salt (or plain sea salt)
1/2 C sun-dried tomatoes or home-made truffle-dried tomatoes (about 24 pieces or 2 whole tomatoes, cut into 12 pieces each)
4 C braised cabbage with apples and onions, warm
1 C fresh or frozen peas
1 C toasted walnut pieces or textured vegetable protein
salt and pepper
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Bring a pot of truffle-salted water to a full boil.  Cook your pasta until al dente.  Add your peas during the last minute.  Remove from heat and drain, reserving about one cup of the pasta water.  In a large serving bowl, gently toss the pasta with the braised cabbage and dried tomatoes, adding the reserved pasta water as desired.  Test your seasoning, adding more truffle salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Garnish with toasted walnuts and parsley.  I sometimes offer a small dish of crunchy textured vegetable protein to sprinkle on top with a spoon for those that want a little more protein.  It adds a great crunch to the dish, but is optional.

No-Fat Vegan Ras el Hanout Couscous

No-Fat Vegan Ras el Hanout Couscous

Good news: my long-suffering oven has finally gone to meet it’s maker. Bad news: it is Sunday night and although I have a luscious long list of recipes to test bake, my oven is kaput.  I’m going to Plan B, which is to use the Ras el Hanout spice I was gifted recently to build an exotic batch of stove-top Moroccan couscous. The spice is widely available in the U.S., but it differs greatly in composition from brand to brand.  Mine has warm, fruity scent, almost like the spiced winter holiday pudding I love so much. Wherever you find yours, be sure to sniff to make sure it tempts you, and acquire only small amounts, freshly ground.

This recipe is savory, with sweet dried fruit, but pulls its bright flavor from fresh lemon juice and orange zest. It is finished with crisp toasted walnuts, scallions and chopped cilantro, for a fresh-out-of-the garden texture.  Oh my!

No-fat Vegan Ras el Hanout Couscous 

2 C dried dates and apricots, chopped
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
1 C dry couscous
2 C water or vegetable broth
1 TBSP Ras el Hanout spice
1 14 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 C coarsely chopped green onion
1/2 C cilantro, chopped
1/2 C walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
Zest and juice of 1/2 orange

Instructions

1. Put chopped fruits in a small bowl and marinate in lemon juice for 1 or 2 hours.

2. In a saucepan, bring the couscous, water or vegetable broth, Ras el Hanout spice, garbanzo beans and chopped onion up to a boil.  Cover and simmer on low until the liquid is absorbed, or 20 to 30 minutes. Remove lid and cool for 10 minutes.

3. Mix together the fruit with its marinade, couscous, & green onion.

4. Place the Ras el Hanout couscous in a favorite serving bowl and finish by squeezing the juice of 1/2 orange over all. Garnish with walnuts, cilantro and orange zest.

Linguine With Braised Fennel and Marsala

Linguine with Braised Fennel and Marsala

Pasta is one of my favorite easy dishes to prepare without fat.  Any super nice looking produce from your local market or weekly farmers market can provide the inspiration for a new flavor or texture combination.  I always feel compelled to just buy the thing that looks most interesting or particularly delicious that day, no matter what I had on the shopping list.

Today, that “thing” was a fennel bulb with its greens attached. It waved at me, and now its greens are building my homemade vegetable broth for the coming week, and it’s bulb is sliced and caramelized in Marsala with garlic, fennel seed, and lemon zest. I am kicked back in my garden with a little shot of limoncello and it isn’t much of a stretch to believe I’m actually in Sicily.

Linguine with Braised Fennel and Marsala

2 14 oz. cans chopped or crushed tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. whole fennel seed
pinch dried red pepper flakes
1 whole fennel bulb, halved and sliced
1 Tbsp. capers, coarsely chopped
1/2 C Marsala
1 Tbsp agave or honey
1 tsp. salt
dash fresh ground pepper
zest of one lemon
chopped Italian parsley for garnish
3/4 lb. whole wheat linguine

Instructions

In your favorite sauce pot, bring first 10 ingredients up to a quick boil, lower the heat and cover, simmering for at least 45 minutes.  Cook 3/4 lb. whole wheat linguine in salted water until tender.  Drain, reserving 1 C of pasta water. Toss linguine with braised fennel.  Add reserved pasta water and toss on low heat for 5 minutes.  Garnish with lemon zest and parsley.

Farro Risotto with Garlic, Orange, and Sage

Farro Risotto adapted from “The Italian Country Table” by Lynne Rossetto Kasper

When I made the switch to no-fat vegan eating, I grieved for my long-favorite cookbooks  filled with the foods that had given me and my family such tasty memories over the years. After just a few weeks, I began to adapt those recipe treasures, and I am happy to say that with the right tools and a little creativity, many if not most things are possible!   Here is an adapted version of a delicious recipe from Lynne Rossetto Kasper out of my all-time favorite Italian cookbook “The Italian Country Table”.  Farro is one of many super satisfying, nutty whole grains I’ve come to love.  Cook this for a full hour and the flavors of orange, sage, garlic and fennel and wine will carmelize into heavenly sweetness.

Farro Risotto with Garlic, Orange, and Sage

1 1/2 C farro
1 C hot water
2 large onions, chopped
10 large or 20 small fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 4-inch branches fresh rosemary
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 undrained can garbanzo beans
8-10 C hot vegetable broth (or same volume H2O with 2 heaping TBSP Better Than Bullion Vegatable)
Zest of 1 orange
4 cloves garlic, pressed or microplaned
1/2 C favorite white wine
Pepper & Salt or salt substitute
Fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped

Put dry farro in a 3 cup bowl and cover with very hot water for 15 minutes.  “Saute” onion, sage, rosemary and fennel by placing in a large pot or deep saucepan, tossing with 1 or 2 cups broth, and covering with a lid.  Simmer until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Remove lid. Add the garbanzo beans w/liquid, garlic, farro, and 1/2 the orange zest.  Cook on medium until liquid evaporates and begin adding hot broth 1 cup at a time, cooking and stirring until liquid evaporates and your hot broth is gone.  The cooking time will take about 50 minutes.  Don’t hurry, the carmelization process is so important to the result, and besides, you can drink a glass of wine while you cook!  Test to make sure the farro is cooked to your liking.  It will have a uniform, chewy texture similar to cooked barley.  When all the liquid is absorbed and the farro is done,  stir in the remaining orange zest and white wine.  Season to your taste with salt substitute or salt & freshly ground pepper.  Simmer another few minutes until creamy and rich.  Serve with chopped parsley.