Thursday, February 04, 2010
Don't Call It Vegan
There's something about the term "vegan" that really rubs people the wrong way. It has a certain holier-than-thou tone to it, as if all other foods, the ones most of us eat, have been declared unclean.
Even worse, the foods deemed worthy of consumption have a reputation for being dull and flavorless. Think tofu, brown rice or rutabagas. Then there are the foods that try to mimic cheese or bacon or turkey and fall pathetically short. Which makes the vegetarian diets of yore look positively lush by comparison.
But you don't have to take a lemons-into-lemonade, turn-that-frown-upside-down attitude to switch your thinking around to what you can have instead of what you can't. Think of the intense flavors we love: heat, spice, sweet. All perfectly fit a vegan diet. Then there are the fats: olive oil, sesame oil and nuts spring to mind. And the great flavors of legumes, fresh greens, squash, garlic, mushrooms. Makes you think, right?
So when I saw the following recipe in John Ash's book From the Earth to the Table,it looked like a tasty new pasta recipe using pesto, cauliflower, pasta and beans. Not some wacky vegan food-like substance. Try it sometime when you're craving a flavor-packed, hearty dinner. You'll be surprised when you don't feel like you've done without.
Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Parsley Pesto
Adapted from John Ash's From the Earth to the Table
For the pesto:
4 c. packed fresh parsley leaves
4-5 cloves garlic, fresh or roasted
2 Tbsp. pine nuts, fresh or toasted
Zest of 1 lemon, grated
1/2 c. olive oil
Salt to taste
For the pasta:
1 med. cauliflower
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. rigatoni, penne or other pasta
3/4 c. kalamata olives
1 c. cannellini, borlotti or other beans, cooked
Mint sprigs for garnish
Put parsley, garlic and pine nuts in bowl of food processor. While processing, drizzle in olive oil until smooth. Empty processor into medium-sized bowl and add rest of ingredients. Combine.
Preheat oven to 350°. Break cauliflower into 1" pieces and place in large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and stir to coat. Empty into 9" by 12" roasting pan and place in oven for 30-40 minutes until nicely browned.
While cauliflower is roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. When cauliflower is almost done, put pasta on to cook until just al dente. Drain and put in large serving bowl, adding pesto, roasted cauliflower, olives and beans. Mix. Serve garnished with chopped mint leaves.
* You can also add 1/4 c. parmesan to the pesto, and served grated parmesan at the table for sprinkling.