Kitchen To Nirvana – website here, Twitter here (please follow her!) is my BFF, godmother to Ava, wonderful friend since the early 90’s when we both worked in D.C. at the still wonderful Hay-Adams Hotel (site of many a wedding still, with its newly renovated rooftop space – check it out!)
Tabatha used to run wild with me, eating steaks and slurping up pasta, but then turned her life into a quest for health. I picked up some of it – and I do cook vegetarian dishes a few times a week, continue my yoga and juice, thanks to her. When we’re together, I eat and cook vegan – and it’s delish. I draw the line at my shoe collection. Once a former shopaholic, Tabatha can now be found stylishly rocking her Birks. I just can’t get there yet.
She’s a yogi, mom to delicious Gabrielito (I’ll post pics), wife to the fabulous John, dog mom to Russ (so sweet) and all-around fabulous girl who lives in a flawless loft in Boston, her adopted town – she’s Peruvian-born and a D.C. girl all the way. Did I mention she’s an art consultant who has a masters from Harvard?
Tabatha in my kitchen, teaching me her foodini skillz.
In the first of many guest bloggers in the series, I’d like to present to you, Tabatha’s first post here at F4 on fantastic vegan cooking. Make this dish tonight. From Tabatha:
Rice Penne With “Cream Sauce” and Squash
Before I became gluten and dairy-free, I would gobble up semolina pasta with cream sauces to the point that I would want to bathe in it because it was all so good. Those days came to and end but I don’t miss them anyway since now I still get my fix of pasta and cream sauce but without the gluten and without the dairy. And it tastes just as good if not better. I would say that this dish fakes it with lots of taste and style! To fake it well, I found this great nut cream made with almonds and cashews that you can buy at your local natural food store or you can order online. The cream is called Mimic Cream and I use the plain, unsweetened version for this. There are different Mimic Creams so buy the one that says you can use it for most recipes that call for cream. If you cannot find it, you can use a vegan creamer that is unsweetened and coconut oil to thicken. Basically, substitute olive oil in this recipe for refined coconut oil. The taste with the coconut oil will be richer but still no bad cholesterol. This particular recipe calls for baked squash and caramelized onions and it makes the dish on the sweeter side but the dry white wine brings the taste to the point of just right. Think winter comfort pasta with no guilt.
Rice Penne with Cream Sauce and Squash. Credit: Tabatha Flores
8 ounces of brown rice penne pasta (I like the brand Jovial but any will do)
2 cups of cooked, medium diced squash
5 garlic gloves finely chopped
1 large sweet onion thinly sliced
4 tablespoons of dry white wine
2 cups of “cream”
1/4 cup of chopped walnuts for garnish
2 teaspoons of dried oregano for garnish
4 tablespoons of olive oil and the bottle on hand for extra drizzling
Salt and pepper to taste
In a 4- to 6- quart stockpot over high heat, combine water with 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring water to a boil, add the penne and cook to al dente and according to directions. Do not overcook rice pasta, as it will fall apart more easily than semolina pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, place 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a 1- to 2- quart saucepan, add onions and cook over medium heat until onions are caramelized. They should be brownish in color and taste mildly sweet when they are done. Turn heat to low.
With your cooking utensil push onions to the side of the pan, place remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the empty side and add the garlic. Stir garlic quickly so that it softens, allowing for the flavor to come out without burning it. The reason for adding the garlic last is that garlic is very sensitive to heat and will burn easily. Therefore, once the onions are cooked you can focus on the garlic just long enough to get the benefits of the taste. Stir garlic in the small area for about 2 minutes and then mix in with the caramelized onions. Add wine, turn heat to medium and let mixture simmer for a few seconds and then reduce heat to low again. Let it cook for 5 minutes to give wine a chance to evaporate. Add cream, let it simmer and immediately begin to whisk gently, off and on, for another ten minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat.
When pasta is ready, drain and rinse in cold water. Drain thoroughly. Return pasta to the pot, stir in the cream sauce and then gently fold in squash. Serve immediately with drizzled olive oil on top. Garnish each plate with chopped walnuts and oregano. Serves 2-3 as a main meal or 4 as a side dish. Enjoy and Namaste!
Me, trying my hand at T's rice cappellini, tomatoes, basil & vegan "ricotta".