Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tamar & Greg's Vegan Italy

New assignment for you tv watchers: Lidia Bastianich on Lidia's Italy. Her recipes are always so simple, and more importantly, give great ideas for vegan interpretation!

On one of our typical weeknights on the couch, Lidia was making what she called a "pesto sauce" for her homemade pasta. However, the pesto sauce was not what we had expected - ricotta, walnuts, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. It looked amazing, and given that tofu is often used as a substitute for ricotta, we thought why not? We had tofu in the fridge, a handful of pecans left in the cupboard, and some pasta and veggies.

Tofu Pecan Pasta (vegan)

1/4 cup pecans
1/2 lb firm tofu - equal to half of a vacuum sealed package
non-dairy milk for consistency
1 tsp or more lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
3/4 TBSP nutritional yeast
Plenty of salt; pepper to taste
additional suggested spices for sauce: garlic powder, onion powder, basil and oregano
1/2 lb cooked pasta
Steamed or sauteed vegetables - we sauteed broccoli and tomato in a little bit of cooking spray

Press tofu between two plates and paper towel and set aside to drain. Meanwhile, grind pecans in food processor until fairly fine, but not powdery. Place pecans in bowl and set aside. Crumble tofu and put in the food processor. Carefully pulse rather than turning the machine on; you are going for ricotta consistency, which is not entirely smooth. As you pulse, add rice or soy milk in very small amounts. Tofu should be close to liquid form but still clumpy.
Mix the tofu in a bowl with the pecans, and add remaining ingredients. Since tofu is so bland, we were not shy about the salt quantity - you want to get just the right amount so that you can bring out all the flavors without having to sit with a large jug of water.
Drizzle the pasta, sauce and veggie mixture with a little bit of olive oil.

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