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'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.


  1. Oooh I LOVE the sound of this. Pesto is my most favourite thing in the whole wide world. Though I was never a creamy pasta sauce fan - I would soooo try this!

  2. mm.. I'm not going to lie... still trying to get over creamy pasta.. you should tell me about this unhealthy addiction!

  3. Okay, then. You know how people always say they're "addicted" to cheese? Well, that's because they are! And THAT'S because any and all breast milk contains a component called casein that essentially drugs the baby--in a good way, I'll explain--while it feeds. This is the reason that a fed-up baby gets that blissfully comatose look that puts some of us in mind of bong hits and "Surrealistic Pillow": it's Mother Nature's way of keeping the baby coming back for more, ensuring its survival until it can eat "grown up" food. Please note that no other species of mammal eats or drinks the breast milk of other mammals. Furthermore, no other mammal drinks the milk of their OWN species after they're weaned, and there are many human cultures in which the idea of consuming the milk of other species is considered pretty disgusting. In short, the amount of casein in human milk is sufficient to grow a 7-8 lb. baby person into a person who can chew and digest "real" food, while cow's milk is designed to grow a baby calf into a gigantic, enormous toddler equivalent of a cow or bull, so it stands to reason that it's going to have a LOT more casein, right? So no wonder Joe Cheesetaster thinks he "can't live without cheese!" Joe Boozehound and Joe Crackhead think exactly the same way, and guess what? They're wrong! Despite what the dairy industry and its evil(er) twin, the meat industry, want you to believe, milk does not "do a body good," unless you are an infant mammal being fed by your own mother until you can chew and digest something else. And that's the truth.

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  5. 'll simply add what I'm telling people all the time when they say "I could never give up cheese (or sometimes milk or cream)." I was, without a doubt and by far, the most enthusiastic consumer of cheese in (let's say) the entire state. I will fight anyone who disputes this. If I ate a piece of toast, I'd eat a quarter pound of cheese alongside it. If I ate almost any hot dinner, I'd grate cheddar or parmesan on top of it. And so on. And that was the last clinging thingy before I became vegan. But shockingly (to me), within a month or so after I quit it, I didn't even think about it. It doesn't gross me out or anything, but it's no more appealing now than meat.

  6. this sounds sooo good, I am a bit of a pesto junky