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MoFo #4 — Entree Thursday: Pumpkin baked penne

4 Oct

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Happy Thursday! Today I’m doing a main dish, and keeping with my fall foods theme I cooked up a baked pasta dish from Veganomicon. I’m sort of regretting my theme this week as we’ve been having an intense heat wave that is not really in line with warm, heavy dishes! I made this dish earlier in the week when it was 100 degrees outside…ugh! I had already bought the ingredients though, so yeah, I took one for the MoFo team, ha ha ha!

The pumpkin sauce for this dish is really, really good. I had a hard time keeping myself from eating big spoonfuls of it out of the bowl! The cream sauce is a mix of cashew ricotta, pumpkin, brown sugar, nutmeg, and cayenne. This is the first time I made cashew ricotta from V’con — my go-to ricotta is an almond recipe from Bryanna Clark Grogan — and I didn’t really care for the stuff straight out of the blender (it tasted really tofu-y) but it was delicious mixed in with everything else.
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I thought the pasta mix looked pretty gross, so of course I took a picture. Maybe this would be a good Halloween dish — gooey orange finger and worm mix?
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The topping was tasty, too, and I liked the addition of ground walnuts to the bread crumbs. I’m really getting into these ingredient photos; the spices always look so pretty!
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The finished product! There were a lot of components to put this meal together but it was totally worth it. The nutmeg really stood out in the sauce, which was rich and creamy with a ton of flavor. The crumb topping was sage-y and crunchy. The pasta:topping ratio seemed a little off to me, so I might use less topping next time. The only thing I didn’t like about this recipe is how hard it is to take a pretty photo! Everything just looks like a blob of pumpkin barf, but I did my best!
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I think this would be a great main course for Thanksgiving. It’s a very tasty and omni-friendly dish, even if there’s a little tofu worked in!

Since I’m trying to be a little more health-conscious, I made a few changes that didn’t seem to change the dish for the worse:

-the ricotta calls for 2 tsp olive oil. That’s not a lot of fat, but it didn’t seem necessary for this dish so I omitted it.
-I used whole wheat penne, which was fine as long as you cook it until it’s really soft
-I used whole wheat bread crumbs in the topping (the recipe doesn’t specify what type) and it added a great flavor
-the recipe calls for 1/4 cup margarine for sauteeing the bread crumbs. I halved this and it was totally fine.

MoFo #19: Tortellini soup

24 Oct

My mom used to buy a canned tortellini soup.  I thought it was the bees knees and had it almost every day for lunch.  I the tortellini had ground beef and some kind of cheese…the flavor wasn’t even that good but the texture was rich and velvety inside and biting into the little pastas was so much fun! The broth was tomato-y but didn’t have that many veggies.  I wanted to recreate that soup tonight and decided to make a tofu ricotta and TVP-stuffed tortellini soup. Here’s how it came out!

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While I was buying my tofu at the store I spotted Tofurkey Italian Sausage. I was already feeling too lazy to work out how to spice the TVP, so I just decided to spring for this stuff instead. It’s actually pretty tasty! I think it’s mainly tofu and seitan with spices so I didn’t feel like it was too processed. I made the tofu ricotta from Vegan with a Vengeance and mixed it up with the sausages, which I ground up in the food processor. IMG_0665 IMG_0664 IMG_0667
As I was preparing everything I started to saute the holy trinity of soups: onion, celery, and carrots.  I also added some zucchini.  Then I added broth, diced tomatoes, spinach, frozen corn, frozen peas and spices and let it all simmer while I made the tortellini.IMG_0669
Wrapping the tortellini was pretty easy, if a little time consuming.  The pasta dough recipe is from Vegan Dad’s site.  I had waaaaay more filling than I needed.  It might find its way into a lasagna this week.  There are a million videos on how to form tortellini…I’ve condensed it down to a few easy steps:

1) Roll out some of the dough till it’s pretty thin and cut it into 3″x3″ squares using a pizza cutter:
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2) Place about 1 tsp filling in the center:
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3) Fold dough in half over filling and press the pocket shut:
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4) Roll the bottom up.  Be careful at this step – if you fill the pocket too full and roll too much it can bust open:
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5) Place your finger in the middle and fold the corners over.  Pinch together.
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One batch of pasta made about 50 large tortellini. Please excuse my ugly tray!
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When the soup was done I threw in all the tortellini and simmered it, covered, for about 10 min:
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It was delicious! Even better than the canned stuff.

Here’s a list of the ingredients:
-tofu ricotta, per VWAV
-4 ground Tofurkey sausages, or equivalent amount of spiced TVP
-1 batch pasta dough (see link above)
-1 onion, chopped
-3 stalks celery, diced
-2 large carrots, diced
-1 zucchini, diced
-1 large can (64 oz) can diced tomatoes, with juice
-6 cups water or broth
-1/2 cup (or 1 handful) frozen peas
-1 cup frozen chopped spinach
-1/2 cup (or about 1 handful) frozen white corn
-2-3 Tbs Italian seasoning
-salt, to taste