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.

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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.

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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
oil
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.

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.

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.

Dill Pesto

Dill on our balcony has grown well and I used some to make pesto today. Then I used the pesto as a salad dressing for a pasta salad, because salads are great food for hot days like today. I made my pesto thinner than regular pestos, because I like it that way in salads. Decrease the amount of oil if you want to make it thicker. Crunchy lettuce, like ice berg lettuce, would be best for pasta salads, but I used some softer lettuce that we grow on our balcony.

Dill Pesto

Bunch of dill
2 tbsp pine nuts or sliced/slivered almonds
1 dl oil (preferably olive oil)
salt and pepper

Blend dill, pine nuts and about 0,5 dl oil. Add more oil to get the consistency you want. Season with salt and pepper.

Pasta Salad with Dill Pesto

7-8 dl cooked pasta (whole grain fusilli, for example)
1 batch dill pesto
3 dl corn kernels
1 bell pepper, cubed
about 15 cm piece cucumber, cubed
3 tomatoes, cut in wedges
small bunch of lettuce leaves
1,5 dl sliced onion stalks or 1 small onion

Combine pasta and pesto in a bowl. If your pasta is just cooked and you use frozen corn, add the corn too, because it will make the pasta cool down quicker.  Add the rest of the ingredients, mix and let sit in the fridge at least half an hour before serving.

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.

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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:

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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.

Pasta Bolognese

Another great pasta recipe from Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Pasta. The recipe called for sun dried tomato paste, which we didn’t have, and I substituted it with 1 tbsp tomato puré. We had the Bolognese with whole grain penne, bell peppers and leeks.

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Lentil Bolognese Sauce

1,6 dl dried lentils (any colour)
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, finely diced
2 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 tsp sun dried tomato paste
1 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper

Cook the lentils. Drain, and keep the liquid. Sauté the onion for 5 minutes, add garlic, celery and carrot. Cover and cook gently for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Add the lentils, tomatoes, sun dried tomato paste and enough reserved liquid to make a thick, soft consistency. Simmer for 10 minutes, adding more liquid if necessary. Stir in parsley, salt and pepper.