Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Vegan MoFo #29: Lemony-Basil Pasta Sauce
Pasta is one of those foods I tend to run hot and cold on; sometimes I really like it and want to eat it all the time, and then months will go by when it would never occur to me. In general, I prefer whole grains like rice, millet or quinoa, but there are times when noodles just hit the spot. Before I was vegan, I would almost invariably choose creamy sauces over the tomato-based varieties, but one of the funny things about "giving up" dairy products (and probably the single thing that non-vegans have the most trouble believing) is that the desire for them disappears almost immediately...it's like you forget that you ever considered that stuff food at all. I won't bore you with the whole scientific explanation for this, although there is one; unsurprisingly, it involves breast milk, but that's all the information you're getting from me at this time. Suffice to say that what most people consider their "love affair" with cheese is actually a sick, unhealthy obsession they should put an end to immediately and leave it at that, shall we?
Anyway, I'm not interested in becoming the vegan Dr. Phil (for one thing, my store of corn-pone self-help aphorisms is woefully inadequate), so back to the pasta. It is a truth universally acknowledged that one of the greatest things to put on pasta is pesto, which is easily made or indeed purchased sans cheese. One cold and gloomy afternoon it occurred to me that something nice and "spring"-tasting would be just the ticket, and when I looked around my kitchen I came up with whole wheat rotini, lemons, pesto and some silken tofu...a short while later I had this sauce, which has a fresh, bright flavor that manages to be substantial and filling, too. It would be good over any pasta, or even rice, so go ahead and play around with it; I guarantee you will never miss the Parmesan!
Lemony –Basil Pasta Sauce
~ ½ cup vegetable broth
~ 2 heaping tbsps. chopped garlic
~ 2 tbsp. vegan pesto
~ ½ cup lemon juice
~ 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
~ 1 cup unsweetened soy milk
~ Zest from 1 lemon
~ 1 tsp. sea salt
~ 1 tsp nutmeg
~ Fresh black pepper
~ 1 lb. soft silken tofu
~ 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
~ 1 tbsp. olive oil
~ 2 large, chopped onions
~ 1 lb. sliced mushrooms
~ 1 cup frozen peas
~ 2 cups fresh, chopped basil
~ Saute garlic in the broth over medium heat until fragrant.
~ Add pesto, lemon juice and zest, vinegar, spices and soy milk, stirring constantly.
~ In a blender or food processor, combine the silken tofu and nutritional yeast; add the liquid ingredients in a slow stream until smooth.
~ In a saute pan or skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat, then add the onions and saute for 10 minutes until they begin to caramelize, adding a little water or broth to prevent sticking.
~ Add the mushrooms and cook another 10 minutes, until the vegetables are brown and fragrant.
~ Add the peas and fresh basil; stir till the basil is just wilted, then add the pureed mixture to the pan and stir until thoroughly combined.
~ Serve hot over any cooked pasta.