Tag Archives: pasta

Super veggie one-pot pasta

I’m not going to pretend that I’m the first person to come up with a one-pot pasta concept – or even that a one-pot pasta is a super innovative concept to begin with.

But a one-pot pasta does speak to everything that I always wanted Urban Garlic to be: a source for simple and uncomplicated meals that aren’t eaten faster than they’re cooked (for the most part). And this one-pot pasta is filled with so many delicious vegetables, it feels like I’m eating my (nonexistent) garden… with some carbs thrown in there.

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Light and creamy pasta bowl

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You know how everyone has those little words that freak them out? Like most people can’t stand “moist” (I, on the other hand, don’t see an issue with “moist” and don’t think there is any other word to describe a good chocolate cake). For me, it’s “cream” and/or “creamy.” Perhaps because I’ve only ever been exposed to it used in a really crude, yucky way.

Anyway, I’ve decided lately that it’s time to take back “creamy.” After all, where would my relationship with Oreos be without it? Or a good, smooth chocolate smoothie? (See? I just used “smooth” twice there because I couldn’t use “creamy.” The grammar gods are weeping). Or, well, this pasta dish?

I ate a lot of pasta in university (surprise, no one) and I’ve always tended to prefer light, veggie-ful pasta to overly rich and creamy ones (I’m not an Alfredo kind of girl, sorry). However, as the temperature drops and the wind picks up, hey,  I’m open to a slightly, let’s say, thicker alternative.

Now, I might seem crazy, making a creamy pasta bowl and then creating another dressing to go on top of it. After all, I used to constantly preach to my old roommate about not wanting to over-sauce things, letting the veg do its work.

But dammit, this is one of those peanut butter and jelly-level dream teams. I can’t let it slide. No way, no how.

This pasta actually didn’t even take all that long, because every element is very much a “do the thing while the other thing is cooking” process.

The creamy tomato sauce recipe will actually make enough to serve four, but I only made enough pasta for two, so I saved the rest and used it on lunches.

If you’re wondering what the spice beau monde is, it’s actually a seasoning mix. You can usually find it at indie bulk stores (sorry, my fellow Canucks — I’ve never found it at Bulk Barn). It has a peppery, onion-y, celer-y (heh) taste and goes great in dips, on tofu and anything holiday-inspired (I think it might make a good stuffing seasoning). By all means, if you don’t feel like breaking your neck to find beau monde, you can come up with your own seasoning mix or just use whatever your little heart desires.

Light and creamy pasta bowl

Prep time: <10 minutes
Cook time: 25-30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings, plus two extra servings of tomato sauce and dressing
Vegan, nut-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free and gluten-free options

Creamy tomato sauce ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups tomatoes (any kind, I used cherry), chopped/halved
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance
  • 1 tbsp vegan cream cheese (I used Daiya, which also happens to be soy-free and gluten-free if that is a concern for you)
  • 1 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, optional

Pasta bowl ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked fusili or penne noodles (use GF if necessary)
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup tomatoes, chopped/halved
  • A couple handfuls of spinach, arugula and/or kale
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional toppings: hemp hearts, sunflower seeds, vegan parm (I used Oh She Glows’ nut and seed parmesan recipe)

Savoury lemon and tahini dressing

  • 1 heaping tsp tahini
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • A small drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp beau monde seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the tomato sauce ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. It should turn out that kind of flamingo-pink shade, like salmon mousse.
  2. In a medium saucepan, boil your water and cook your pasta until al dente
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat a small amount of olive oil in a large skillet on low-medium heat. Add your minced garlic and tomatoes, sauteeing until fragrant (I try to time this step so it syncs up with the pasta finishing up).
  4. When your pasta is done, drain ‘n’ strain, then add to the pan, mixing in the tomatoes and garlic.
  5. Add the creamy tomato sauce and toss in the greens, then cover with a lid and let cook for a few more minutes, until the greens are wilted.
  6. Transfer to bowls and add our toppings, including the dressing. No, really, it’s okay mixing sauces!

So I’m not the only person on the Internet who likes beau monde, right? I just never see it in recipes. I have a few other recipes that I’m working on which incorporate it, so stay tuned for those.

I’ve pumped out quite a few savoury recipes since my relaunch, but I think I need to get into some sweet creation. The good news is, I have a vacation coming up (yay!) so I can get to creating and photographing some exquisite new creations for you to all enjoy. What’s something you’d like me to try and veganize? Butterless butter tarts, perhaps? Okay, I can’t make that promise, but I can try.


Butternut squash gnocchi

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Gnocchi is a modern miracle. Are they potatoes? Are they pasta? Are they fluffy? Are they tender? WHAT IS THIS WITCHCRAFT MISCHIEF?

It’s gnocchi, man.

I’ve expressed my fondness for gnocchi before, but I’ve finally gotten around to making my own. Of course, I’d be totally boring to simply do up a potato or even sweet potato gnocchi, right? So of course, I went with butternut squash.

Lemme tell you an anecdote about butternut squash. When I was in my first year of uni, I lived in a four-person unit with five other girls (bunk beds made two single rooms into doubles, yay!) and witnessed a wide array of eating habits that were, needless to say, strange. What was perhaps the strangest of all was that the two girls who were varsity athletes seemingly had the worst habits. One girl, a varsity soccer player, was still pretty new to the whole fending-for-herself thing, and didn’t really have the time to learn to cook. At the same time, she wanted to get her veggies in, so often her dinner would simply be a whole butternut squash, sliced into medallions and microwaved for about a half hour or so.

I mean… it could be worse, right? Butternut squash is totally nutritious and tasty. It’s good enough to eat on its own, I guess, which is why I kept this pasta very minimal. Of course, you could go nuts if you wanted with some colourful veg showing up the gnocchi, or you could make it sweet with some maple and nuts and some sprouts.

But here are a few things I learned from making gnocchi:

  • The act of making it isn’t really hard or high-maintenance.
  • It’s best to mash the potatoes or squash and let it cool first, even dry out a little. The more warm/moist it is, the harder your dough will be to work with and the more flour you will need. I’d recommend leaving it uncovered (or loosely covered with a clean dish towel or something) in the fridge for a little while. Seriously.
  • Literally all you need is three ingredients (plus any spice you want). Don’t let anyone tell you you need an egg for binding.
  • Best balance to strike for gnocchi that’s not too sticky to work with but not so dry that you don’t need an egg (or, obviously, flax egg): mash it, mix in most of your flour, let cool/dry a bit, THEN see if you need any extra flour before you start rolling it out.

The good news about gnocchi is you can do a lot of your steps ahead of time — like cooking/mashing your squash — so that the actual making of the little “nubbins” (a scientific unit of measurement according to my partner) is fairly quick.

Butternut squash gnocchi, serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 a large butternut squash or 1 small butternut squash
  • 2 1/2-3 cups flour (whatever kind of flour you like, a GF flour will hold just fine)
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
  • Salt, pepper and/or any spices you like, to taste

Instructions

  1. Slice your butternut squash in two or into medallions. Lightly dab with EVOO and cook at 375 for 60-80 minutes (should be fork tender and skin should peel off easily)
  2. Once squash is cooked, remove from heat and scoop the insides out into a bowl.
  3. Mash the insides until there are no chunks at all (that’s totally easy, you can even do it with a fork).
  4. Add about 2 1/2 cups of flour and mix in evenly.
  5. Let your squash cool/dry for 30 minutes or so, unless you’re in a hurry in which case you may have to add more flour.
  6. Once your squash is cooler/dryer and not so sticky, dust a clean surface with flour. Shape the mixture into a dough ball and pull apart into smaller, fist-sized balls. If these balls feel too sticky in your hands right off the bat, just add a bit more flour.
  7. Roll your smaller dough balls in your hands until there are no little pieces splitting off. Then begin to roll back and forth on the surface until a cylindrical tube forms.
  8. Gently cut off pieces of the tube, about 1″ long. You may have to do some extra shaping if necessary (or if you just want to make them look fancy). Set the pieces aside.
  9. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the gnocchi pieces to the water (if you have a lot, you may have to do this in two batches).
  10. Once the water comes back to a boil,  let the gnocchi boil for no longer than two minutes. Remove, drain and strain!
  11. Fry up your gnocchi with whatever veg you like. This is a simple mix of tomatoes and spinach (my partner also added extra nooch and green onions to his. He’s a total nooch hound — and he isn’t even a vegan!)

Pumpkin Vindaloo Pasta

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A few days ago I took a venture in to Leslieville, a neighbourhood I’ve admittedly never known too much about. I always knew Leslieville as the place where the hipsters in the East end lived. Anyway, I was there with my friend Drew to buy some yarn and learn to knit. I’m happy to say that the whole learning-to-knit thing went quite well. Of course, I found myself continually distracted by the shop next door, a cute little market called Raise the Root. I explained to Drew, I have a bit of a problem with independent markets. By “a problem with” I mean “a problem with staying away from them.”

When I went in, I was lucky enough to see a demonstration from a local Toronto food business, Good Food For Good. I think it’s not only really important to support local businesses, you find things you wouldn’t normally be able to find anywhere else. It didn’t take a lot of convincing for me to take home a jar of the Vindaloo sauce.

Of course, I couldn’t just make a standard stir-fry with this. Being me, I had to do something different.

I love a good pasta, so I thought, “How can I incorporate this into pasta without seeming too weird?”

I give you, Pumpkin Vindaloo Pasta — it’s sweet, it’s smoky, it’s tangy. You can add any veggies you like to this (I bet it would be good with some shredded carrots), but I went for my classic, tomatoes and spinach.

Pumpkin Vindaloo Pasta, serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup penne or other small pasta (I used a gluten-free brand)
  • 1 whole tomato
  • 2-3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tbsp Vindaloo sauce (more if you’re really into spicy!)
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 cup spinach
  • Sunflower seeds, shelled

Instructions

  1. Warm the olive oil in a large nonstick pan on low heat. Add the chopped garlic and the tomato, also chopped (I kept it in large wedges). Let this simmer on low for about 15 minutes to get really soft and fragrant.
  2. Cook the pasta according to directions. Before it’s finished, ladle out about 1/3 cup of the pasta water.
  3. Mix the sauce — add the pumpkin puree, garam masala, allspice, nutritional yeast, cilantro and vindaloo sauce and mix thoroughly. It will still be very pasty, but worry not!
  4. Once the pasta is finished, add it to the pan and mix in the pumpkin sauce. Gently add your pasta water to make it a little more sauce-like and coat the pasta.
  5. Add in your spinach and cover the pasta for a few minutes. Once the spinach is wilted, it’s ready to serve.
  6. Top with sunflower seeds and whatever else you like — though honestly, this dish doesn’t need many other flavours!

This dish turned out to be such a wonderful, unique, smokey flavour! You’d never expect that from sweet, pure pumpkin. What’s your favourite unconventional pumpkin dish?


Colourful Veggie Gnocchi

Processed with VSCOcamI’d never tried gnocchi before I was 22. Scratch that. I didn’t even know what gnocchi was before I was 22. No, wait. I had never even heard the word “gnocchi” before I was 22. My friend Chantel was working at a restaurant on campus and she gave me a free order of gnocchi. I had no idea what it was, but it sounded awesome (as in, the word itself was really fun to say), so I was like, “okay!”

I’m not sure what’s more fun about gnocchi — the fact that it’s beautiful, pillowy little potatoes of goodness, or that the word is so fun to say.

Anyway, I’m still working up the courage to make my own gnocchi, but in the meantime, I’ve been developing a few great gnocchi recipes. See, the thing about eating vegan and loving pasta is that it’s hard to find anything nice and thick that sits heavy and long in my belly making me feel totally full for several hours without adding some sorta faux-meat, which is why gnocchi is my number one favourite pasta right now.

Processed with VSCOcamThis dish is definitely one that would be more suited for summer, but like my various smoothie creations, I can’t help but debut it right now in hopes that it will bring a beautiful summer sky. I happened to make this last Sunday, when it took myself and my partner several hours and lots of crying to get my car boosted because it was so cold outside. And yet, we had a ton of fun cooking this up and even enjoyed it with a few (maple) whiskey sours!

Processed with VSCOcamColourful Veggie Gnocchi, serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 5oo g pack of gnocchi (or make your own). I used a gluten-free brand.
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli florets
  • 1 cup chopped cauliflower florets (you really don’t have to use coloured cauliflower, I just thought it looked neat and it was on sale)
  • 1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup spinach
  • Nutritional yeast, to personal desire
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Warm 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large nonstick pan on very low heat. Add the garlic and tomatoes and let sautee gently for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized saucepan with a steamer attachment, bring about 2″ of water to a boil and steam the cauliflower and broccoli. This should take about 10 minutes. Once it’s done, drain it in a colander.
  3. Now cook the gnocchi. Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch the gnocchi — once it starts floating, it should only need a few more minutes.
  4. Once that’s cooking, chop your remaining veggies.
  5. After 15 minutes of sautéeing, add the onions and parsley to the pan and raise the heat slightly.
  6. Add the broccoli and cauliflower to the pan.
  7. Finally, add your gnocchi to the pan and add the spinach. Toss the veggies together and remove from heat once the spinach is wilted.
  8. Sprinkle on salt and pepper and nutritional yeast to your liking and enjoy with someone you love. Or a cat. Yeah, a cat.

“Just spicy enough” cilantro pesto

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I didn’t actually know what pesto was until I was about 20-21. Hey, don’t hate on me for growing up with nothing but canned marinara my whole life. Anyway, I instantly fell in love with the pesto I had been served. It was made by my mom’s priest, and he is a total garlic fiend, so I’m assuming there was at least a full clove in my small serving alone.

And if you can’t tell… I really like garlic.

Hell, I’m surprised I haven’t incorporated more garlic into my posts. Perhaps I should focus on that!

For now, I’ll satisfy my own (and hopefully some of your) garlic cravings with this easy, healthy recipe. It’s a zesty alternative to a sweeter, basil-based pesto, has some crunch added with kale, and can totally take a sandwich into “OMG!” territory.

“Just spicy enough” cilantro pesto
Makes one mini mason jar worth of pesto

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup kale (baby kale or curly preferred for the crunch)
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional, recommended if you like your pesto cheesy)
  • 1/2 tbsp hemp hearts
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil + more as you need it

In a food processor, shred the greens first until they’re a fine confetti, then add the seeds, hemp, nooch (if using) and garlic and pulse some more. Finally add your oil when you add your spices in.

As you can see, I don’t use a lot of oil in my pesto because I prefer it to be more packed and dense, not as liquidy. It’s simply a preference and you can add more as you see fit.

This pesto goes great in a grain and veggie bowl, or in a breakfast burrito! I’m not much of a pasta eater these days, but hey… nothing is stopping you from that either. Oooh, or a pizza. Yeah, pizza. Oh, I’m hungry now. Okay, time to go find food!