Tag Archives: pasta

Super-Creamy, Super-Cheesy Vegan Pasta Bake

28 May

This is the single creamiest, cheesiest thing I have eaten in all my years of being vegan.  Also, it makes me realise how lucky I am to have fairly easy access to the ingredients to make something like this happen – I know it won’t be as easy for some, but let me tell you this fifteen-minute pasta bake is well worth going out of your way for.

What you’ll need:

  • Pasta, some kind of short twirly or shell pasta, whatever you like.  Two cooked and drained serves (or more if you like)
  • 1 tin of crushed tomatoes.  Whatever brand and style you like – if you buy them with herbs and onion, just omit any more herbs and onion (or don’t, it’s up to you!)
  • 1 regular sized onion, chopped and lightly browned
  • 1 grated wheel of either Cheezly super-melting edam or Cheezly super-melting mozzarella.  I confess, I used half a wheel of each mixed together but I remember how expensive Cheezly was in Australia, so I wouldn’t have done it there!
  • 1 regular-size carton of Oatly oat cream.  You could use Soyatoo, but it wouldn’t be the same.

What to do:

  • Put the cooked and drained pasta in the bottom of your baking dish.  In a mixing bowl, combine all other ingredients and pour over the top.  Mix lightly, so all the pasta is covered.  Pop in the oven for 15 minutes.  Eat.
  • Celebrate the cheesiest, creamiest, easiest vegan dinner you have ever made.




A good excuse and pasta sauce

7 Apr

Okay, I know that I said that I wouldn’t further neglect the much neglected TTK, particularly for the (very poor) excuse of not liking my kitchen.  Well, I have a good excuse for having done so lately and it involves spending an entire week being able to stomach nothing but cereal.  Yep – I’m up the duff.

Thankfully, I seem to have passed into the second trimester mostly unscathed and am starting to feel significantly more like eating food that is, well… not either cereal or tomato sandwiches.  So, I’m going to try and begin again in earnest.  Particularly now that I can start thinking about what kinds of wonderful wholesome foods I need to put into my body now that I’m growing a tiny human.

Add to this the fact that we are moving (hooray!) and our new place will have a kitchen.  I don’t just mean some stock bench-space, a hob, an oven, a sink.  I mean an entire room devoted to cooking.  A whole room – with some wonderful bench space – that I can lock myself into and devote to food creation.

And to celebrate, here is something which is specifically for my friend B.  While she was still living in London we talked about how to create something like this and I said that I would organise some kind of recipe for her.  Of course, I never did – but here it is.

A stock standard home-made tomato pasta sauce

What you need:

– slightly overripe tomatoes.  I used cherry tomatoes for this, but you can use any kind.

-good quality olive oil

-herbs of your choice (I use basil)

What you need to do:

Skin your tomatoes.  The easiest way to do this is to cut a little cross into the bottom side of each tomato and submerge it in boiling water.  Once you pull it out you should be able to just peel the skin away – if not, just dunk it back into the water.

Put all your tomatoes, along with a little drizzle of olive oil, into an oven proof dish.  If you’re using big tomatoes then cut them up into quarters or eighths, cherry and baby tomatoes you can just put in as is.  Put them into a moderately hot oven, something around 200 should be fine.  Leave them for about half an hour.

Pull the dish out and smush them up with a fork.  Be careful!  You might get squirted with some very hot tomato seeds and other assorted innards.  Smush as much as you can.  Pop them back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes.

At this stage, I like to transfer the tomatoes into a pot and put them on the stove – covered – to simmer down a bit more.  This is also a good time to add in some chopped up fresh (or dried, if you like/that’s all you have) herbs.  This stage is a bit more up to you.  If you don’t mind a chunky sauce, you won’t want to leave them simmering for too long.  If you want something a bit smoother you will want to cook them down a little bit more.  If you are so inclined you can wizz your sauce up for something a little bit smoother.

Now – you can either use this sauce as is.  Or, you can add things – soy milk, cream, cheese is fine, if you are so inclined you can add some cooked brown lentils or TVP to make something closer to a bolognese.  At the ‘transfer to the pot’ stage you can start by adding some finely chopped onions or leeks, carrots or celery also go really well.  Before you finish, throw in a dash of red wine for something a bit richer.   You can really do anything you like with it.  It’s also freezable, so you can make a huge batch and freeze it off.

And then, obviously, you eat it.  (Although the days of final-dish photos with a huge glass of red wine are over for me for a while, please feel free to have one if you are devouring this sauce!)

Vegan Carbonara and the end of grieving

23 Jan

I have been grieving for my kitchen.  Not the physical kitchen – the bench, the sink, the oven.  But, the things that make my kitchen, well, my kitchen.  My amazing food processor (how did I ever live before this?!?), my wonderful Tupperware measuring cups and my Happy Chopper.  My bowls, my marble rolling pin, my baking trays.  I know that this isn’t an excuse for having – without any warning to you – let TTK fall by the wayside.  Well – no more!  I must get over it, I have sufficiently re-stocked my kitchen (albeit with less expensive things…)  And, so – to welcome back TTK I give to you my amazing no-soy, no-fake chesse Vegan Spaghetti Carbonara.

Okay – it doesn’t look super amazing, but it passed the S-taste test, and that is good enough for me.

While you’re spaghetti is cooking, throw one finely chopped onion and half a finely chopped leek into a frying pan with a little bit of vegetable oil (I personally use rapeseed oil) and start making a basic white sauce in a medium sized saucepan.  The amount of sauce you make will depend on how thick you like your cabonara, but my base was about 1 1/2 cups of rice milk and something around 1/4 cup of organic white flour sifted and whisked in, then stir though about 1/3 cup of oat cream until the sauce is a nice consistency – you’ll want it to be thick but still runny (if you cannot find oat cream, you can you Soyatoo or similar).  Add in a dollop of a mild yellow mustard (dijon or similar, or if you prefer something a bit different play around with seeded mustards) and some pepper to taste.  Take this off the heat and add in a handful of roughly chopped green beans, and your nicely-browned leek and onion mix.

Drain your spaghetti, stir the sauce though, serve with (as always) a lovely glass of red!

In other news, tonight S and I were feeling particularly lazy so we had microwave dinner (well, not really as we don’t have a microwave, but you get the idea…) consisting of Amy’s kitchen mac-and-cheese, which I bought from Wholefoods this afternoon.  Now, S had the ‘regular’ kind and I (obviously) had the vegan version.  The exciting thing about this is Amy’s kitchen vegan meals use a Daiya vegan cheese.  You can’t get it in Australia, and I haven’t found packs of it in the UK, though I’m not sure if it’s available or not.  It is apparently the most ‘realistic’ vegan cheese on the market, so I had been keen to try it.  It was nice – rich – but not like I remember cheese to taste.  I would certainly be happy to have it again, and maybe find some to try and cook with, but I’m not in the hugest rush.  I think I have said before that I am not the biggest fan of the fake-cheese products, but they are nice every so often.

One more thing, quite quickly.  Last week S and I went to see Jonathan Safran Foer do a q-and-a at LSE.  You probably know JSF as the author of (among other things) Eating Animals.  It was really wonderful.  It was great to hear how frank he was about his struggles with veganism, raising his children vegetarian, coming to terms with the research he did for the book.  Admittedly, this talk wasn’t aimed at me, and his book wasn’t aimed at me – I had already been vegan for quite a while when I picked it up – but it was great to hear such a truthful account of his struggles.  I think S took a bit more away from it than I did.

S feeding ducks in the Seine



3 Oct

The all-new (literally) Thoughtful Kitchen Kitchen!  Yes, it is a corner – but it does contain an oven (hooray) and a four burner stove top (electric, which I will have to get used to!)  Last night we bought a baking tray from a store called Poundland (as you can probably guess, everything costs £1) and so, tonight culinary creation begins.

However – I have made a few things since moving in, and I wanted mostly to show you the very first cooked meal that this kitchen produced (don’t get your hopes up, it’s quite underwhelming):

Yes – it’s pasta.  I also just used a jar of sauce and added some generic veges to it.  See.  Very underwhelming.  At least you get a nice photo of Rupert The Honeymoon Duck as well.

But, I also wanted to gloat a little about how WONDERFUL food labeling in this country is.  It’s just sensational.  I haven’t had any problems at all, and many things even say very clearly on the packet ‘Suitable for Vegan.’  Also, I found out that my local Waitrose supermarket has Rice Dream.  And, it is awesome.

I was actually dreading having to ‘start fresh’ – I mean, S and I pretty much know what we like, what brands are good and can get in and out of the supermarket pretty easily, but that all changes when you arrive in a new country.  However, after realising how good the labeling is, I am quite looking forward to trying everything possible and finding the good stuff again!

So – there will be many more cooking wonders coming out of the tiny corner kitchen, but in the mean time S and I are writing a blog about our time in London, so feel free to read if you wish: W148BD.wordpress.com.

Vegan Tofu Stroganoff

15 Jun

I am ashamed to admit that from the opening minutes of last night’s MasterChef I have been thinking – nay, obsessing – about the logistics of this dish.  How to make the beef and sour-cream laden dish vegan?  And, honestly, this dish would not be at all possible without the use of a sour-cream substitute.  You can either make one yourself, or you can use Tofutti’s Sour Supreme.  I really wasn’t sure how this would turn out, but it passed the S clean-plate test, so it must be okay.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 block of firm tofu
  • 1 medium sized brown onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • A big handful of mushrooms
  • plain flour
  • sweet paprika
  • a few spoonfuls of tomato paste
  • Sour Supreme or a home made sour-cream alternative
  • about 2 cups of very light vegetable stock
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fettuccine – home-made or store bought, if desired.

What you need to do:

Start by chopping up your tofu into blocks – as traditional stroganoff calls for ‘strips’ I cut my tofu into strip-like bits.  In a bowl, mix about three tablespoons of plain flour with about two teaspoons of sweet paprika and toss your tofu around in the mix to coat.  In a hot pan with a little bit of water, toss the tofu around a bit in order to ‘toast’ the sides of the tofu.  Set tofu aside.

After this, in the same pan, add the finely chopped onions and garlic to brown off a bit.  When they’re starting to look good, add the tofu in along with about 2 cups of light vegetable broth, and two dollops of tomato paste and, after giving it all a good stir around to incorporate, add in the flour and paprika mix from the tofu coating.  At this stage, put on your fettuccine, if you want it (depending on how long it will take; fresh will obviously be much, much quicker so should go on right at the end.)

This is the most important stage to taste your sauce.  Add more paprika if needed, or tomato paste, or broth (if you like thinner sauce) or flour (for thicker) and some salt and pepper.  Now add your cut up mushrooms – you can cut them in any way, really, but I like to slice.  Along with this, add in about two heaped spoonfuls of the Sour Supreme (or alternative) and carefully incorporate all that together.  Turn the heat down to a simmer, until the mushrooms are nice and soft.  Serve either alone, or, on top of the fettuccine.

Edited to add:  I have just seen that the addition of paprika to the MasterChef Stroganoff is causing a bit of an uprise amongst Russian cooks.  To be honest, the few beef recipes I looked at over the course of the day did include paprika, so that influenced my decision to use it.  However, it seems it may be not a true ingredient – in which case, use at your own peril.  Another small note, most recipes I looked at included either wine or sherry, neither of which I had on hand so neither was included.  A spoonful of sherry or splash of wine could be easily (and probably, tastily) included just before the simmering, or with the first lot of liquid.

Tomato-Pasta-Cook-In (a.k.a ‘What do do with left over soup?)

28 May

If you’re anything like me, when you make soup you really go all out and make heaps of soup!  Currently I’m enjoying carrot and fennel throw-it-together with some onion and leek and potato, and double-triple-creamy-tomato (based on the double-tomato recipe from the Veganomican.)  But, this isn’t about soup.  It’s about pasta – and, the left-over-one serve of tomato soup when there are two people who need to eat.  So, you turn it into pasta.

Start by thinning out the soup (or, if the soup is frozen, start by defrosting the soup – then thinning it out).  Then, cook your pasta in the thinned out soup.  I like to use spirals, but you could use any kind of short pasta you like.  You’ll probably need to keep adding water to the mix – but that’s okay.  When the pasta is done, throw in two tablespoons of Better-Than-Cream-Cheese, or thickened coconut cream (if you don’t mind the taste), or a splash of rice-milk.  Begin to stir, and start adding small amounts of plain flour – this will thicken the whole mix up.  Stop adding flour when it’s at your required thickness.

That’s pretty much it.  Sorry I don’t have a photo, though – I was going to take a photo of the third serve which I had put aside to take for lunch, but S beat me to it!

For what it’s worth, I made stir-fry last night and at the point of no return realised I hadn’t made a sauce.  Rice Malt Syrup plus Soy Sauce.  Trust me.

One more plus: once my thesis is finally finished, I am going to dedicate a bit (read: a lot!) more time to this.  It’s a resolution, baby.

Sauceless Sage Gnocchi

24 Apr

Gnocchi is one of those things which I just love to make.  It’s pretty easy, it’s pretty messy and it’s just all round good fun!  This is a particularly tasty and easy gnocchi recipe, which not only passed the S test of tastiness, but has been fed to others with similar results!  Great with a nice big and bold red wine.


You’ll need 6-8 largeish potatoes (for four big serves).  If you have the time, bake your potatoes from the start, otherwise steam or boil until almost cooked through, then bake them off at the end, throw in a few garlic cloves when you put your potatoes in the oven.  When they’re ready, mash the potatoes really, really well before adding a small amount of Nuttelex, a pinch of ground sage, 2 or 3 cloves of roasted garlic and a few heaped tablespoons of all purpose flour and kneed it all together.  The most important thing with gnocchi, I think, is to rely on your instincts!  If you think your gnocchi dough needs more flour, add more.  If you think it needs some liquid, throw in some rice milk.  Once you’re happy with your dough you can either roll it out into a long snake, and cut off equal parts or you can shape your gnocchi separately.  I like big, square gnocchi, so I generally shape them.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a rolling boil and lower a few of the gnocchi in at a time.  As soon as each one rises to the surface, pull them out and straight into a colander, and then onto a clean tea towel.  Go through until they’re all cooked and on the towel.

While the gnocchi is drying out a bit, throw a chunk of Nuttelex into a frying pan and, once its melted down, throw in some fresh sage.  Once the Nuttelex has melted down, put the gnocchi squares in and just throw them around a little bit.  I like to mainly crisp the gnocchi up on two or three sides, rather than the whole thing – but you can do whatever you feel like!

Plate up with a few bits of gnocchi, some fresh sage, and pour some of the Nuttelex/sage over each plate.  Large glass of red wine (last night we were drinking a brilliant ’04 Cab Sauv.)

Vegan ‘bolognaise’

14 Apr

Tomorrow is pay day, and S has been in the house alone for the past week.  Unsurprisingly, there was very little food in the cupboard when I returned home from New York yesterday.  Last night, I was so tired that I honestly didn’t care, but looking in the cupboard tonight didn’t really inspire me.  In fact, even I was amazed at what turned out.

So, I did have three main ingredients: pasta, untreated tomato pasta sauce, TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein – I generally put  it in pies and things for S to make sure he gets a good amount of protein while training.  This was the dark, caramelised one which I don’t really like).

With the pasta on, I started by smashing up some garlic.  I don’t have any onions or leek, which I would have normally diced up and thrown in the pan to sizzle away before I even considered anything else, and if I were to make this again I would most certainly include them.

Then I started to soak the TVP with water.  Even though I would normally stir in some salt and pepper and, depending, some gravy mix or spices, I left these plain.  In a saucepan (off the heat) I combined some untreated tomato pasta sauce (to give you an idea, this is like the base of pasta sauce with absolutely nothing added  – it’s basically thinned out tomato paste) with the garlic, some basil, some olive oil and a fairly generous dash of red wine (that I coincidentally already had in the decanter!)  Once it was whisked up with a fork I briefly threw it on the heat before adding the now ready TVP.  The TVP could easily be subbed for lentils. When the pasta is done and drained, and the sauce is hot just throw it all together.  Nothing else required (the vegetarian S didn’t even feel the need to smother this with cheese!)

This was insanely easy, quick and delicious.  It’s also pretty easy to modify – I already have plans for a full vege and lentil version!

Having said that, I am pretty stoked about our market trip tomorrow!

(Plus, an update on Vegan New York in the next few days!)