Vegan Rustic Pasta

A couple a years ago when I was still working as a server, one of my favorite customers had told me about a new vegan cookbook called The Kind Diet – written by Alicia Silverstone. At this time, I had been a vegetarian for a couple of years and was very interested in experimenting with vegan cuisine.  Needless to say, once my shift was over, I pedaled my way to the nearest bookstore to pick up a copy.

I knew I wasn’t ready to be fully vegan (I love cheese more than anything) but quite a few of the recipes looked lip-smacking delicious – and they were. Now, I will admit that the longest I’ve ever gone being a vegan is a little over a month – but I do like to take “vegan” weeks every now and then if I feel like I’ve over-indulged on the dairy.

So, even though I know that I could never be 100% vegan, I still refer to this book all the time for some yummy recipes. One of my favorite dishes from this book is the Rustic Pasta. It’s so tasty and hearty that even a meat-eater would approve and probably wouldn’t complain about the lack of animal product. I like serving this dish with a big fresh salad or with some veggie sausage on top.

You should also check out Alicia’s vegan website: The Kind Life.

Rustic Pasta

The ingredients:

  • 1/4 pound pasta (you can choose long or short shape)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 large onions, very thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I used more)
  • 2 celery stalks, diced or thinly sliced on a diagonal
  • 1/4 cup shoyu
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 5-6 tablespoon marinara sauce

The method:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and add the pasta. Cook just until al dente. Drain the pasta well.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the onions and cook for 7 minutes until softened. Then add the garlic and saute for 3 minutes longer. The onions should transparent and turning golden.
  3. Add the celery to the skillet and saute for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the shoyu, salt, garlic powder, then add the cabbage; saute for 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes longer.

Baked Fontina and Smoked Mozzarella with Thyme and Rosemary

Oh. My. Goodness. This was so delicious, if I do say so myself. Nick and I recently dined at North, in Arcadia – it quickly became one of our faves. They have an appetizer called the “Bread and Cheese Plate” – when we ordered it we figured we would be getting a selection of cheeses, some olives, chutney and bread; but what we got would be so much better.

While sipping on a lovely red wine, our jaws dropped to the floor when we saw a cast-iron skillet of cheesy goodness and beautifully grilled artisan bread slices. Needless to say, we were in heaven. This dish was so delish, that I couldn’t stop thinking about it days after we had been there. Naturally, I took a stab at creating it at home and it was my favorite dish that I’ve made to date.

I borrowed this recipe from Ina Garten, but added some twists to it. My recipe is below.

  • 1 pound Italian Fontina Val d’Aosta cheese, rind removed and 1-inch-diced
  • 1 pound smoked mozzarella, 1-inch-diced
  • 1/4 cup white truffle oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 crusty French baguette, grilled and sliced

Directions

Preheat the broiler and position the oven rack 5 inches from the heat.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Distribute the cubes of Fontina and Smoked Mozzarella evenly in a 12-inch cast-iron pan. Drizzle on the truffle oil. Combine the garlic, thyme, and rosemary and sprinkle it over the cheese and truffle oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and place the pan under the broiler for 6 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling and starts to brown.

Serve the baked cheese family-style-right out of the oven in the cast-iron pan with crusty chunks of bread for everyone to dip.