Wine Wednesday: Pasta

I like cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.

A deciliter or two of red wine makes tomato sauce so much better. I always add some when I make tomato sauce for pasta or pizza, if I have a bottle at home.


Tomato and Vegetable Sauce

1 onion
2 garlic cloves
1 celery stalk
1 carrot
½ bell pepper
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp thyme
1 can crushed tomatoes (or 500 g fresh, chopped tomatoes)
1,5 dl red wine
1 tsp sugar
salt, pepper
fresh or dried herbs (basil, oregano)

optional additions:
fried mushrooms
1 dl red lentils
1 can beans

Chop the onion and garlic. Dice celery, carrot and bell pepper. Heat the oil in a sauce pan and sauté the onion with thyme about 5 minutes on low-medium heat. Add other vegetables and sauté another 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, red wine and sugar. If you’re using lentils add them at this point too, and some water. Simmer 30 minutes or longer, add some water if it looks like your sauce is getting too thick. If you’re using mushrooms or beans add them in the end of simmering. Season with salt, pepper and herbs and serve with pasta.



My Favourite Pasta Casserole

Few years ago I made this pasta casserole with my sisters. We were all starving when it finally was ready and it tasted like the best food I had ever eaten. After that I made it at home, but it didn’t taste that super awesome, since I was just hungry and not starving. But it’s still my favourite pasta casserole. The recipe is my sister’s and it’s so great that I want to share it with everyone. More traditional pasta casserole recipe is here.

Pasta Casserole with Soy Curls

2 handfuls (=about 100 g) soy curls
vegetable broth for cooking
1 onion
4-5 garlic cloves
7 dl vegetable broth or water + 1-2 bouillon cubes
4 tbsp tomato puré
2 tbsp wheat flour
2 dl oat (or soy) cream
pepper, pinch of chili, herbs (lovage, basil, parsley)
salt if needed
uncooked pasta (I recommend small pasta shapes like elbow macaroni, small shells or even farfalle)

Cook the soy curls in vegetable broth according the instructions on the package. Drain, but save the broth. Chop onion and garlic. Heat the oil in a pan and fry soy curls, onion and garlic until nicely browned. Add 5,5 dl broth and tomato puré, bring to boil. Mix 1,5 dl cold water of broth and wheat flour together. Slowly pour to the pan constantly stirring. Add herbs, pepper and chili. Slowly boil 5 minutes. Add the cream. Taste and add salt if needed. Grease an oven proof dish. Put some pasta and the so curl sauce in it, about 50/50. Carefully mix. Bake 45-60 minutes in 200 Celsius degrees.

Cute Boletes and Pasta

I found these babies on Tuesday.

They might be Orange Birch Bolete, but I’m not sure, since there are some other fungi that look very similar. Anyway they’re part of Leccinum genus, and all the similar looking species taste good so it doesn’t matter if don’t recognise them exactly. It’s enough that I know it’s one of the similar-looking-boletes. If there were a chance to confuse them with inedible or poisonous mushrooms, I wouldn’t pick them.

Wednesday I used them to make pasta sauce. Orange Birch Boletes (and the others who look like them) must always be cooked well, otherwise they can cause stomach ache. So no quick frying for them. They also turn black when cooked, so tomato sauce is better for them than creamy sauce. I had Orange Birch Bolete, but you can also use the recipe with other forest mushrooms or cultivated mushrooms.

Orange Birch Bolete Pasta

whole grain fusilli or other pasta

1,5 l cleaned and coarsely chopped Orange Birch Bolete
2 tbsp oil
1 onion
3 big garlic cloves
1 glass red wine (optional)
1 can crushed tomatoes
1-2 dl water
pinch of white pepper
small bunch of fresh basil (about 4 tbsp chopped)

Sauté the boletes in a dry pan until the excess water comes out. Discard the water or keep sautéing until it’s evaporated. Add oil and chopped onion and sauté few more minutes. Add minced garlic and sauté couple of minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, water and wine and bring to boil. Simmer covered at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile cook the pasta according the instructions on the package. Season the sauce with salt, pepper and fresh basil and mix with pasta.

Pasta Ai Funghi Porcini

Last autumn there were lots of porcini to pick in the forest. We used some of them right away and dehydrated the rest. And we still have a big jar of dried porcini slices. Today I used some of them to make pasta sauce. I served it with whole grain penne, but I think fusilli or farfalle could have been nicer. But penne was good too. Believe me, there’s also porcini in the picture even if they’re not very visible.

Pasta with Porcini

2-2,5 dl dried porcini pieces + water
1 onion
1 tbsp oil
2 dl oat cream
pinch of salt and white pepper
0,5 tsp chervil

cooked pasta (preferably whole grain)

Soak the porcini in hot water until they are soft. Chop the onion. Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onion 2-3 minutes. Drain the porcini and add to the pan. Continue sautéing until onions are soft and translucent. Add the oat cream and slowly boil about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and chervil. Porcini are very flavourful and they don’t need much spices. Combine with cooked pasta and serve.

Special Macaroni Casserole

It’s handy to have some food in the freezer for days you don’t have time to cook or if you don’t have any leftovers to take with you to work. Today we made loads of macaroni casserole so we could have it for dinner and have leftovers to freeze.

Two Macaroni Casseroles

400g macaroni
3 big carrots
2 medium/small onions
1 celery stalk
1 can white beans in tomato sauce
salt, pepper, oregano
vegetable broth
half bell pepper
3 dl green beans cut in shorter pieces
2 garlic cloves
5 dl coconut milk
scant 1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala
pinch of cayenne
1 tsp lovage

Cook the macaroni according to instructions on the package. Peel and coarsely grate the carrots. Peel and chop the onions. Take two oven proof dishes and divide macaroni, carrots and onions in them. If one is bigger than the other, put 2/3 to it and 1/3 to the other (like we did). Slice the celery stalk and put it and white beans to one dish. Sprinkle salt, pepper and oregano on top and pour enough vegetable broth to barely cover other ingredients. Dice bell pepper and mince the garlic cloves. Put them and green beans to the other dish. Combine coconut, cumin, garam masala, cayenne, lovage and some salt in a bowl and mix them with macaroni mix. Cover both dishes with lid or aluminium foil and bake in 200 Celsius degrees for 45-60 minutes. Remove lid/foil from the first dish after 20-30 minutes and from coconutty dish 5-10 minutes before it’s done.

A Filling Salad

Nomad was supposed to have band rehearsal today and I planned to make macaroni salad for dinner so I could eat it earlier and he could eat when he comes home. But one of his band members was sick and the rehearsal was cancelled. I made the macaroni salad anyway.

Macaroni Salad

350g rye macaroni (or regular macaroni)
1 tbsp olive oil
200g frozen peas
4-5 dl mung bean sprouts
1 big bell pepper
2 small onions
6 sun dried tomatoes
2 pickles
fresh basil leaves for garnishing (optional)

5 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
scant 1 tsp basil

Cook the macaroni according the instructions on the package. Rinse, put in a bowl with frozen peas and 1 tbsp oil. Cut the onions in thin half moons, cube the bell pepper and pickles and cut sun dried tomatoes in strips. When macaroni is cooled and peas are thawed, add rest of the salad ingredients. Mix the dressing ingredients together, pour on the salad and mix. Let sit in fridge at least 20-30 minutes before serving.

Mushroom Lasagne

I invented this recipe earlier this autumn when we had picked lots of forest mushrooms with my mother. It was great, and I made it again last weekend when we had dinner guests. I don’t have pictures on the computer yet, but I’ll add one later.

Mushroom Lasagne

9- 12 lasagne sheets

Mushroom sauce:
1-1,5 l cubed forest mushrooms
2 tbsp oil or margarine
1 onion
1 can passata + half can water
scant 1 tsp salt
0,5 tsp black pepper
1 tsp basil
1 tsp chervil
0,5 tsp thyme

Bechamel sauce:
3 tbsp margarine
1 dl wheat flour
7,5 dl soy or oat milk
pinch of salt and white pepper
pinch of nutmeg (optional)
0,5 dl nutritional yeast

Heat the mushrooms in a big pan or pot until the liquid comes out of them. Drain or continue heating until the liquid has evaporated. Chop the onion. Add the oil and onion to the pot and sauté until the onion is soft and translucent. Add passata, water, salt, pepper and herbs. Simmer while you make the bechamel sauce.

Melt the margarine in a sauce pan and stir in flour. Add 0,5-1dl milk, stir well, add more milk, stir etc. until all the milk is gone. You can increase the amount of milk you add when half of the milk is gone. Bring to boil (remember to stir often!) and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in the nutritional yeast. Check your mushroom sauce and add water if needed. It should be relatively thin, so thin that you wouldn’t want to eat it with spaghetti.

Grease a lasagne dish and spread a thin layer of mushroom sauce to the bottom. Put a layer of pasta sheets to the dish, spread half of the remaining mushroom sauce on them and 1/3 bechamel sauce next. Repeat and last put a layer of pasta and bechamel sauce on top.

Bake 45 minutes in 175 Celsius degrees.

Tagliatelle and Walnuts

I think I should eat more nuts and I’m trying to find new ways to use them. We had couple of pears at home and I got an idea of pasta with walnuts and pears. The combination was good, but the nuts could have been nicer if they had been partially crushed. I sprinkled almesan (from Veganomicon) on top, but the meal would have been good without it too.

Walnut Pasta

180g tagliatelle (6 balls)
water and salt for cooking

2 small pears
1 dl white wine
2 tbsp oil
2 shallots
2 garlic cloves
2 celery ribs
3 dl walnuts
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp basil
0,5 tsp parsley
salt and pepper

Cook the tagliatelle according to instructions on package.

Peel the pears and cut in bite size chunks. Put them and white wine into a small pot and simmer 10 minutes. Peel the shallots, cut them half and slice. Mince the garlic and slice the celery. Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the shallots and garlic about a minute. Add celery and sauté another minute or two. Add the walnuts and keep sautéing until the shallots and celery are soft. Add the pears and wine, herbs and lemon juice. Season with salt an pepper. Combine with cooked pasta and serve.

Lentil Cannelloni

When I saw Kurpitsamoska’s lentil cannelloni recipe several months ago I wanted to try it. Soon my sister came to visit and asked if we could make mushroom and eggplant cannelloni, which we made and enjoyed and I forgot the lentil cannelloni recipe. Until a friend of ours told that she had made awesome vegetarian lasagne and the next day Nomad suggested that we’d have lasagne or cannelloni in the near future. On Valentine’s day I veganized Kurpitsamoska’s cannelloni and they were great.

Lentil Cannelloni

cannelloni tubes

Lentil Filling:
2 dl red lentils
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tsp sugar
0,5 dl nutritional yeast
0,5 dl oat cream

Tomato Sauce:
2 cans crushed tomato
1 big onion
5 garlic cloves (or more)
1 glass red wine
pinch of sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
2 tsp dried basil

Boil the lentils 10-15 minutes. Drain and stir in other ingredients. Let sit a little while.

Chop the onion and mince garlic. Sauté in oil until soft. Add rest of the ingredients and simmer as long as you have patience.

Fill the cannelloni tubes with lentil filling and put them on one layer to a oven proof dish. Pour the tomato sauce over them and bake 25-30 minutes in 225 celsius degrees.

Cooking with the Sopranos

We have been watching Sopranos DVDs and usually the food they eat looks so delicious. So we borrowed The Sopranos Family Cookbook from the local library. I wouldn’t buy this book, because most of the recipes include meat, but I like to have it at home for a month. Few recipes are already almost vegan, you just need to sprinkle vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast on top of the dish instead of  dairy cheese. Some recipes need more substituting to make them vegan and some recipes are completely useless. I have tried only one recipe so far, and it included four kinds of meat! Pork and veal were used only for flavour, the meat pieces were removed before serving, so they were easy to substitute. The other two meats were sausages and meatballs, which were easy to veganize. The soy ball recipe makes loads of balls, so you may want to make only half.


Sopranos Style Lasagne

Lasagne pasta
Tofu ricotta
2 dl oat cream + 1,5 dl nutritional yeast (or melting soy cheese)
1-2 dl Parmazano or other vegan parmesan

Tomato sauce

2 tbsp olive oil
2 sausages
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp tomato puré
3 cans of crushed tomatoes
2 dl water
1 vegetable bouillon cube (I used herbs and garlic flavoured)
salt and pepper
6 basil leaves, chopped

Soy balls

3 dl textured soy protein
vegetable broth
2 dl bread crumbs
1 potato
1 dl wheat flour
1 garlic clove, minced
1 onion, chopped
0,5 dl nutritional yeast
1 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper
2 tbsp oil + more for frying

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pot. Fry the sausages until they are brown from every side and put them on a plate. Throw the garlic cloves to the pot and fry couple of minutes or until they are browned. Remove from the pot and eat them. Fry the tomato puré for a minute and add crushed tomatoes. Add water, boullion cube, salt and pepper. Stir in basil and sausages. Bring to boil, cover the pot partly and simmer for 2 hours, stirring from time to time. Add more water if necessary.

Meanwhile make the soy balls. Put the soy protein into a bowl, add some broth and stir with fork. Keep stirring and add more broth until the soy protein is moist. Remember that it’s easier to add broth than remove it, so add only little bit at time. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes, add the rest of the ingredients and mix with your hands. Make small balls, about size of a grape. Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the balls from every side.

When the sauce has been simmering for two hours, add the soy balls and simmer 30 more minutes. Remove the balls and sausages from the sauce and add water if the sauce is very thick. I had to add several desilitres, because the sauce for lasagne must be much thinner than the sauce that is eaten with cooked pasta. Slice the sausages.

Lightly grease a lasagne dish and spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom. Put a layer of pasta on them, then some soy balls and sausage slices, spoon tomato sauce on them, then  1/4 of Tofu ricotta and few tbsp nutritional yeas mix and  parmazano. Make the rest of the layers the same way. After two layers my dish was nearly full, and I decided to put fewer balls and rest of the sausages on the last layer. I thought I’d freeze the rest of the balls and sauce. But I couldn’t even put the last layer of pasta to the dish, because it was this full:


I still had some sauce and quite a lot of soy balls and cheeses left, and thought that I could make more lasagne and freeze that instead of balls and sauce. I added one more can of crushed tomatoes to the sauce, because there wasn’t enough left for another lasagne. This time I managed to put layer of pasta on the top, and spread rest of the tomato sauce and nutritional yeast mix and sprinkled some parmazano on it.

Bake in 175 cesius degrees for 45 minutes.