Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Mushroom and spinach tagliatelle

Having not long returned from 3 months in the Sth of France this post was cooked, photographed, eaten and inspired by our trip to France. 

What is it about France that makes me eat wheat? Every time I go there it becomes a large part of my diet. At home in Mullumbimby, Australia, I eat Gluten free Rice and Quinoa pasta maybe once a month or our local pizza Milk 'n Honey (the best ever pizza – its bloody good!) probably monthly or when I'm too tired to cook after a long days work cooking or after catering on a retreat for a week. Lets not even mention the
fresh French bread from the local boulangerie…it is so hard to resist! There is nothing quite like it here.

Pasta is the age old great comfort food of the masses. Having just survived a real winter there (some days were minus -10C!),  a little warming comfort food is so appreciated. So organic wheat pasta did creep into my diet a little more often than usual. I can justify having it in my diet by either mixing it with lots of vegetables and/or serving it with a nice big crunchy salad. Keeps the guilt factor down.

I thought I'd do something I don't normally do with pasta – a white sauce. Mushroom and spinach in a white sauce feels like such a classic vegetarian meal but it's a goody. There's something lovely about pasta with two main ingredients, the pasta really stands out. 

Simply delicious!

Makes enough for 4 people 

250gm tagliatelle/spaghetti

Pasta sauce
10 medium size mushrooms, sliced
100 gms fresh spinach (English spinach is lovely)
½ large brown onion, finely diced
2 tsp mixed Italian herbs
2 tsp vegetable stock powder (vegan) (or 1 tsp good salt if you don't have stock powder handy and 1tsp savory yeast flakes if you have access to them)
500ml soya milk
1 tsp arrowroot or cornflour

Firstly put the water on for the pasta while you prepare the sauce. Most ready brought pasta takes around 10-15 minutes to cook. Once you've made this sauce once or twice, it could take you the same amount of time as it takes to bring the water to the boil and cook the pasta for 10-15 minutes. So once the water has boiled, add the pasta and finish making your sauce. 

Saute the onions in a deep frying pan in a little splash of olive oil until soft. Then add the garlic and reduce heat slightly so you don't burn the fine garlic. Saute for approximately a minute, then add your dried herbs so they infuse into the onion and garlic mix. After about a minute add the sliced mushroom and cook until they are golden and have absorbed some of the herby onion mix and vice versa, approximately 2 minutes.

Pour in half the soya milk (or milk of your choice) and allow it to simmer. Add the vegetable stock powder and stir thoroughly into the soya milk. Then add the fully washed spinach (no-one likes dirt or grit in their food!) to the frying pan and allow it to wilt.

Mix some arrowroot with a little bit of water into a mug and stir until the white powder has dissolved into a thin paste. Then slowly, whilst stirring, add the arrowroot paste to the pan to thicken the sauce.

When pasta is ready, drain and return to the saucepan. Then pour your sauce on pasta and mix through. Serve into pasta bowls, adding a little cracked pepper and vegan parmesan cheeze if you have it or wish to make it. See below for the recipe

Enjoy this warming comforting food with friends or loved ones. 

Vegan parmesan cheeze
1 cup cashews (or blanched almonds) 
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp Italian dried herbs
3 tbs savoury yeast flakes
1 tsp good salt (I love pink Himalayan salt - see photo)

This is so easy and quite yummy. Process your cashews in a food processor until they form a fine meal, light and powdery. Catch it before it turns to cashew butter. Then add the remaining ingredients and whizz for another 30 seconds or so. Too easy.

Place in a glass jar. Keeps in the fridge well.

Note: You can use almonds with the skin on too, but it doesn't look as lovely and 'white' cashews or blanched almonds, which looks more like "normal" parmesan cheese but who cares!

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