Friday, June 20, 2008

'Cheesy' Baked Cavatappi with Onions and Peppers

First, a note on cavatappi. I found this shape (a corkscrew-variety of pasta) easily enough at the supermarket, but not from an organic company, and in a box with the suspicion-inducing words 'enriched pasta.' Enriching generally means some sort of animal by-product, and the suspicious one in this case was Ferrous Lactate. Research online confirmed that, most often, it is made from a substance found in animal bones. I tried calling the company, but could get no confirmation as to the origin of their ferrous lactate (it can be plant-derived). I decided, therefore, that it was safer to forgo being exact for this recipe, and to use the closest pasta I could find that was 100% vegan.

I'm happy to report that the gobbetti pasta from Bionaturae is nearly identical in shape to cavatappi, and made of 100% duram whole wheat. Nothing enriched.

Second, this recipe calls for some fairly exact measurements on several, tricky-to-measure ingredients. It's a great example of how fun and easy it is to use a kitchen scale. Mine was a mere $7, is tiny (i.e. takes up almost no cabinet space) and ensures exactness on the pasta, the 'cheese' and the flour called for in this recipe. (I've provided cup measurements, too, just in case).

So for this recipe, start out by heating half a teaspoon of olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 3/4 cup chopped onion, and saute for three minutes, then add 1 1/4 cups chopped red bell pepper and saute an additional three minutes. Spoon into a bowl and set aside.

Cook 6 oz (about two cups) of dry pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Pour 1 1/4 cups plain soy milk into a bowl. Add 1/2 oz. all-purpose flour (about 2 tablespoons), and stir will with a whisk to combine.

In a saucepan, melt 3/4 tsp. vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) over medium-high heat. Add the soy milk mixture, stirring with a whisk, and continue to cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

The original recipe called to add two types of cheese here: sharp white cheddar and Gruyere. For the white cheddar, I used the vegan cheddar block from Galaxy Foods, even though it's yellow so slightly altered the recipe's aesthetic value. Gruyere is a white cheese similar to the hole-y Swiss cheese. I could have used the white vegan mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods, but I actually decided to go with the Monterey Jack vegan block from Vegan Gourmet ( Their cheeses are a bit creamier, which I thought would be truer to Swiss. Although it doesn't shred quite as well as the blocks from Galaxy Foods, it does mostly shred, and you can crumble any additional bits.

So here, add 2 oz. each of the vegan cheddar block and the vegan Monterey Jack block - about 1 cup total, shredded. Stir with a whisk until the 'cheese' melts, then add 1/4 tsp. salt, a dash of black pepper, a dash of nutmeg and a dash of ground red pepper. Stir in the reserved onion mixture and the pasta and stir gently to combine.

Pour the whole thing into an 8x8 baking dish coated with cooking spray, and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, until bubbly. You'll have 4 servings of 1 1/2 cups and 370 calories each. Bon appetit!

red bell pepper $1.50
gobbetti pasta $1.99
vegan cheddar $3.39
vegan Monteray Jack $4.19

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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