Sometimes cooking is Art, sometimes cooking is Science, sometimes cooking is Alchemy and sometimes cooking is, well you don’t know what just happened. This is one of those kinds of recipes. There’s no cheese in this recipe. There’s no vegan cheese-substitute in this recipe. It doesn’t taste cheesy. But somehow it carries the same savoury, flavour-punch that you get with a good cheese sauce.
I don’t know what’s going on, but I’ll be making it again!
1 butternut squash, cut into wedges and de-seeded
200ml soy milk
1 tsp bouillon powder
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp mushroom ketchup
1/4 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 bay leaf
250g macaroni pasta
cayenne or paprika for garnish
Heat the oven to 200C.
Place the butternut squash wedges on a roasting tin, pour over 100ml of water and cover with tin foil.
Put in the oven and bake for an hour.
When cooked and soft, remove from the oven and scrape the flesh from the skin.
Put the macaroni on to boil.
Add the butternut squash flesh into a saucepan, add the soy milk, bouillon powder, mustard powder, mushroom ketchup, thyme leaves and bay leaf to the pan.
Bring to the simmer and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and blend to a smooth paste. Add some boiling water from the cooking pasta if the sauce is too thick.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the sauce.
Stir until thoroughly coated.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately with some paprika or cayenne sprinkled on the top.
Please say hello to a special guest from Down Under this week! Our friend Julie Carter is a social worker with a serious book addiction and a love of all animals – and she’d rather not see them on her plate, thanks, hence the vegan diet. So, over to Julie …
Well, it looked like it was going to be a disaster, especially when the tin attacked my finger … Here is the basic stuff I used – not a recipe, just some ideas I had and I generally flew by the seat of my pants. I didn’t measure anything and just played it by ear and it wasn’t half bad. More of the sauces next time, though, I think. But it got the thumbs-up from my step-son who is a meativore and my husband who is also a vegetarian, so I was quite chuffed.
I went for the gluten-free fresh sheets of lasagne, which are soft and ready to cook, not the hard stuff in packets.
You can add any veggie you want. I sliced them all thinly and roasted them until they were browning and soft.
Gluten-free flour (I used it because I didn’t have any gluten-free cornflour, but it is just as effective)
Coconut cream (place in fridge so that it is all creamy – sometimes the tinned ones are still milky but putting them in the fridge hardens them)
Melt margarine and then mix flour to make a paste. Then add coconut cream until thick but still runny – do all of this whilst still on the stove.
Basically this is a Bolognese sauce. I used garlic, olive oil, a jar of Dolmio (Garden Vegetables), lots of chopped-up olives and tinned lentils. I cooked it all for about 30 minutes until it was still runny but had boiled off.
I layered the veggies evenly between each layer of lasagne sheets, pouring a little white sauce and red sauce between each layer. I poured the remaining white sauce over the top of the top sheet followed by the remaining Bolognese, and topped it with slices of fresh Italian tomatoes and vegan cheese. I cooked it until the sheets looked sagging and it was bubbling – about 30 minutes.
This is the classic pasta dish Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, spaghetti with garlic and olive oil. All the recipes I’ve seen add chilli to the mix. It’s known in my house as ‘cold cure pasta’. I didn’t know about its curative properties when I first made it, however. I had a streaming cold and was just looking for a quick and easy dinner. This dish takes no longer to cook than the time to cook the pasta, but once I’d eaten it I found that my nose dried up for the rest of the evening!
Even if you don’t have a cold to deal with (or a battalion of the undead to keep away with the garlic!) this is still one of the great pasta dishes. As there are only a handful of ingredients, which are treated incredibly simply, use the best quality you can get. This is one to use the plumpest garlic and the extra virgin olive oil.
I’ve given the quantities for two people here, but this is a solitary dish for me so I don’t need to worry about table etiquette of eating spaghetti dripping with oil and flavour.
Cook 150g of spaghetti according to packet instructions. While the pasta is cooking gently warm 3 tablespoons of good olive oil in a frying pan. Stir in 2 minced plump cloves of garlic and 1 chopped birdseye chilli. Stir the garlic and chilli through the oil but you are only warming and flavouring the oil, do not fry the garlic and chilli. When the pasta is cooked, drain it thoroughly. Put it in the frying pan and stir through the oil until every strand is coated. Season with black pepper and serve, sprinkled with a few chopped basil leaves.
Do you ever fancy a mushroom risotto but don’t fancy the standing and stirring that goes with it? Although I thoroughly enjoy a good stir in the kitchen, there are times when I don’t have the time or really can’t be bothered. In those situations I reach for orzo pasta – the tiny, rice-grain-shaped ones. It cooks a lot quicker than rice and will give you a lovely bowl of warm comfort in a short time and for very little effort.
I have used mushroom stock here – from the Italian porcini stock cubes. They are well worth seeking out, but otherwise vegetable stock and some mushroom ketchup will do the job. This is one place where button mushrooms will do well – they hold themselves together well in the cooking process. I think this tastes good enough on its own, but the cheese lovers can add the veggie parmesan substitute of their choice if they feel like it.
1 clove garlic, crushed
200g mushrooms, sliced
200g broccoli, sliced
200g orzo pasta
750ml mushroom or vegetable stock + 1 tbsp mushroom ketchup
1 tsp fresh tarragon, chopped
Heat a little olive oil in a wide saucepan.
Add the garlic and warm through.
When you can smell the garlic in the oil add the mushrooms and broccoli.
Stir for a couple of minutes and then add the orzo, stock and tarragon.
Stir well and bring to the simmer.
Season with salt and pepper.
Simmer, uncovered, for 8 minutes or until the pasta is cooked.
If it hasn’t absorbed all the liquid, turn off the heat and let it stand for a couple of minutes and the pasta will take up more of the stock.
My brother Jon and my sister-in-law Maria are both excellent cooks. They’re not vegetarian, but I always get fed well when I go to stay. And one of my brother’s pasta recipes reminded me of summer, so let’s pretend that autumn’s not sneaking up on us rapidly.
First time around, both Jon and I put mushrooms in, as we happened to have some lurking around and outstaying their welcome. Jon adds parsley as well. I made the recipe again and replaced the mushrooms with feta cheese, and the parsley with basil. This one had a lighter, less earthy taste. But you might want to dial back on the capers and/or olives if you don’t like dishes too salty.
Clove of garlic, crushed
Couple of spring onions, finely chopped
Half a chilli, finely chopped
Handful of small tomatoes, halved
A dozen small black olives, finely chopped
1tsp of capers
While the pasta is cooking (penne or fafalle is probably best), sweat the garlic, chilli and spring onions very gently in a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the tomatoes, olives and caper, and warm through. Drain the pasta and mix the topping through it. Add plenty of torn basil leaves and ground black pepper. If you’re veggie rather than vegan, it benefits from feta cheese crumbled on the mushroom-free version or some hard pasta cheese (Tesco’s is very good) on the original. Parsley works better than basil on the mushroom dish.
This is a great vegetable-packed pasta sauce that doesn’t feel like you’re eating a lot of vegetables in it. It has a deep flavour (aided by the balsamic vinegar), but the effort required is minimal. You could even roast the vegetables the night before and then this is a quick pasta sauce that can cook while the pasta is boiling.
1 aubergine, cut into 2cm dice
1 pepper, cut into 2cm dice
1 courgette, cut into 2cm dice
6 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp basil leaves, chopped
Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Spread out the aubergine, pepper and courgette over one or two baking trays.
Toss the vegetables in the olive oil until they are all coated.
Season with salt and black pepper.
Wrap the garlic cloves in a square of kitchen foil and put on one of the trays.
Cook the vegetables for about 30-40 minutes.
Once the vegetables are cooked, scrape them into a saucepan.
Squeeze out the roasted garlic cloves into the pan.
Add the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and one tablespoon of the basil leaves.
Simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Serve with pasta, with the remaining basil leaves sprinkled over the top.
This has to be one of the weirdest combinations my food-obsessed brain has come up with, but it works. The earthy sweetness of the beetroot is complemented by the dryness of the walnuts, the saltiness of the olives and then highlighted by the fragrant dill.
It is also pink.
If anyone decides to use this as a dinner-party item, please put Barbie Pasta on the menu.
2 pre-cooked beetroots
1 clove garlic
6 black olives
2 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp dill, chopped
Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling water.
Put all the ingredients except the dill into a food processor and whizz until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it and then return to the warm pan.
Stir in the sauce until all the pasta is coated.
Serve with the dill sprinkled over the top.