You ever have those nights where you just don’t feel like cooking? You’ve bought all the ingredients for a few awesome meals you want to try out but when the time comes to start cooking you just want something else. Something simple.
Well that’s how this dish came about. That and the fact that the fridge had a bunch of leftover ingredients from the week since it was a day or two before shopping day. When I’m working, I get in the zone and forget all about important things like time and meals and on this particular day I’d finally made some headway on a particularly difficult scene and the next thing I know it’s eight-thirty, which meant if I wanted to make the meal on the menu dinner would have been at eleven.
Instead, like any good vegan I have a pantry with more than a sufficient amount of grains. Everything from whole wheat pasta to bulgur and half a dozen different types of Asian noodles. I reached in and pulled out the whole wheat penne and the idea slowly came together. Well it was mostly because of the penne but also because there were three packages of fresh basil in my veggie crisper just waiting to become pesto and I REALLY wanted pesto and thus…pesto pasta was born.
Before we get into the details of this recipe, I have to gush a little about my newest vegan find, Parveggio. I happened upon this ingredient by accident and if you’ve read this blog before you know all about my love-hate relationship with vegan cheese. But Parm is a different beast altogether and when I lived in Germany I also found a really great vegan parm.
I don’t know if it was the lack of palm oil or just the simple fact that there have been incredible advances with vegan food over the past few years, but this was incredible. It had the slightly salty, tangy flavor of Parm without the need for dairy products and all the drama that goes along with animal-based cheese products. I bought it mostly for the pesto so pesto pasta was a natural solution.
For the pesto, I roasted the garlic because I wanted a more intense and less raw garlic flavor and I didn’t use any oil other than what dripped from the 3 sun-dried tomatoes I added. I used: basil, mint (just a handful) garlic, lemon zest & juice, pistachios, sun-dried tomatoes, parm, a few drops of chipotle flavored Tabasco sauce and a teaspoon of capers. Toss it in the food processor and let it run until smooth.
Because I didn’t use oil, I added the lemon juice in batches to make sure everything got chopped up with the proper consistency. If you add oil, do so in a slow but steady stream until the consistency is just right.
The rest of the dish was super easy. I used a couple teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil to saute the onions and crimini mushrooms for about 5 to 7 minutes. Then I added a 1/4 cup of peas and tofu crumbles, seasoning with salt, pepper, oregano, thyme and a pinch of smoky paprika. When everything was done, I drained the pasta and tossed it with the onion & mushroom mixture before tossing with pesto in batches until every bite was coated.
Then I added a dollop on top with a sprinkling of parm and we LOVED it. It took about twenty minutes, most of which was prep time and I was able to serve a delicious and mostly healthy meal well before eleven at night!
If you’re curious about Parveggio, check out the page for GreenVie Foods.