I don’t hate pasta any more

A good pasta dish can feed a lot of people quickly, cheaply and easily.  I’ve got 3  rules for pasta:

  1. Buy a good quality pasta – that means no supermarket’s value packs.  I’d recommend DeCecco.
  2. Keep your starchy cooking water for your sauce.
  3. Simplicity is key – and that means a few good ingredients.

Until recently, I saw pasta as a cheap, lazy, basic meal – that I didn’t mind – but would only make as a last resort.  That is because I was doing it wrong.  I was draining my pasta, discarding the water, and putting sauce on top of the pasta. That is not the way!

This pasta dish is excellent, full of good nutrition (in the form of peas and pine nuts), and takes 11 minutes to make. I recommend linguini, but spaghetti will do.  Please check that your pasta does not contain egg. Most dried pasta doesn’t, but DeCecco do an enriched one with eggs, so watch out for that. Fresh pasta is pretty much a no-go for vegans as it contains egg.

Ingredients (feeds 2)
150g DeCecco linguini (or other good quality brand)
Quarter cup of pine nuts
1tbsp olive oil (good olive oil – extra virgin)
1 full cup of fresh peas (removed from pods, or straight from the packet if you got deshelled ones) – frozen peas won’t do!
3 cloves garlic (finely sliced)
Half a white onion or a couple of large shallots (Chopped)
1 large medium-hot red chilli (deseeded and diced up small)
1 Lemon (zest grated & juice)
Handful of parsley (chopped)
1-2 tbsp plain soya yoghurt/soya cream/oat cream (optional)
Vegan parmesan (optional)*
Salt & pepper (to taste)

*please bear in mind that vegetarian and vegan parmesan are not the same.  Vegetarian parmesan is set with a vegetable rennet, but is still made of cows milk, vegan parmesan (made by Violife) is made with vegetable and coconut oils, and is available at a lot of health food shops now, such as Holland and Barrett.
Method

  1. Fill a kettle with water and boil.  Add the boiling water to a pan over medium heat, add a good handful of salt (you won’t be eating it, it will be drained, but trust me you need it!), then when boiling again, add the pasta.  Set a timer as per instructions (about 11 mins), and leave to cook. Towards the end of cooking, remove a good mugful of starchy cooking water and reserve.
  2. Heat a frying pan with no oil and add the pine nuts.  Keep these moving and toast them until they are golden all over (a couple of mins), don’t let them burn!  Remove and put in a bowl.
  3. Add your olive oil to the pan.  Add the chopped onion and cook over a low-medium heat until it has softened but not crisped or burned.
  4. Add the garlic and the chilli and cook these whilst stirring until the garlic is pale golden.
  5. Add half a cup of the cooking water to the pan, add the peas.  Cook for 2 mins.
  6. Add the lemon zest and the juice of half a lemon. Add salt and pepper and taste.
  7. Add the pine nuts back into the pan.
  8. Add the yoghurt, stir in the chopped parsley.  If it is dry then add more cooking water. You might want more anyway depending on the how you like the pasta.
  9. Drain the pasta when the timer goes and put the pasta into the frying pan.  Toss the sauce and pasta together.  Taste and season if necessary.
  10. Serve and top with extra vegan parmesan and a swirl of olive oil, and more parsley.
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