Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Orecchiette and Arugula with Creamy 'Ricotta' Sauce

I'm doing another 'ricotta' recipe tonight (there's a whole section on it in my April cooking magazine).

Orecchiette is also called "little ears" pasta because of its small. rounded shape; every once in a while, I strike it lucky and find them at the supermarket, but generally speaking, you can substitute little shells pasta and they work just as well. That's what I did tonight, from a box of pasta already in my cabinet. The one thing in pasta to watch out for as a vegan is eggs! They're not often in packaged brands, but every once in a while, yes, so read the ingredient panel carefully. If you're eating pasta in a restaurant, make sure you ask your server, because most freshly-made pastas contain eggs.

To start, bring 3 quarts of water (12 cups) to a boil. Add 8 oz. of orecchiette (or similarly shaped pasta). Boil for twelve minutes.

While it boils, crumble tofu to equal half a cup. Combine the tofu with a 1/4 teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon and a half of olive oil, a dash of black pepper, and two tablespoons of soy cheese.

The original recipe called for pecorino. Soy cheeses have made progress in leaps and bounds over the past few years, and the company I find most reliable for recipes - especially those that involve shredded cheese - is the Vegan cheese by Galaxy Nutritional Foods.

They make two varieties, one a mozzarella, the other a cheddar. Essentially, if I have a recipe that calls for a white cheese - parmesan, pecorino, mozzarella, swiss - I use the former. If a recipe calls for an orange cheese - cheddar etc. - I use the latter. No, the taste is not exact, but then, if you're still really craving cheese that badly, you're probably not quite ready to be vegan.

So now you've made your tofu mixture while the pasta cooks. Drain the pasta but reserve a 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid as you drain. Add the hot pasta and a cup and a half of thinly sliced arugula to the tofu mixture, along with two tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid. Add the remaining tablespoons of liquid if your mixture is too thick.

Spoon 1 1/4 cups of pasta onto each of four plates. Top each with a 1/4 cup of chopped plum tomato and another tablespoon of the "pecorino." Sprinkle with more black pepper.

Four servings, 320 calories a pop.

tofu $2.19
vegan cheese $3.39
arugula $2.50
plum tomato $1.25

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance