Five Ingredient Vegetarian Caprese ‘meatballs’

vegan, dairy-free pasta and meatballs

 

Meatballs on spaghetti are a perennially popular dish – children always seem to wolf them down. This vegetarian version works really well with spaghetti in a spicy tomato sauce, and adds a good dose of beany protein to an otherwise carb heavy dish.

I had a tin of canellini beans lurking around – as D jokingly calls it ‘the by product from my use of Aquafaba!!’, and I thought I’d experiment with white bean based ‘meatballs’. Although necessarily softer than a meaty version, they do get a nice crisp exterior whilst baking in the oven and the bean and breadcrumb mix is the perfect carrier of robust flavours – on this occasion sundried tomato, basil and garlic as a nod to a classic caprese salad. Besides, a recipe of five healthy ingredients which can be whipped up in minutes, you can’t complain at that!

bean balls for pasta

Vegetarian Caprese Meatballs

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

serves 4

vegetarian spagetti and meatballs, egg-free

Makes 12 which serves 4

3/4 tin of canellini beans plus 2tbsp of the liquid in the tin (the aquafaba)

5 sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 slice of bread made into breadcrumbs

1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped

Small bunch basil, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Whizz together all the ingredients in a food processor
  2. Using wet hands, form into balls and place on a foil lined baking sheet which has been lightly oiled
  3. Bake for 15 minutes at 190 degrees centigrade until golden
  4. Serve on spaghetti and spicy tomato sauce

dairy-free veggie meatballs

Magic One Pot Pasta

magic one pot pasta, dairy-free, egg-free, vegan

I’ve seen various one pot pasta dishes on Pinterest for a while but I have to admit to having felt rather sceptical – surely it must be more of a gimmick than an actual ‘life changing hack’ as they call it? But, I had to give it a go! Surely it could be the most useful camping dish ever, especially for us with our inadequate camping set up  and one ring gas burner!!

This is my version, tweaked to our family tastes (passata so not ‘bits’ to please the children), rich sundried tomatoes for added flavour and plenty of herbs and chilli flakes for added oomph. It’s not going to change the world, but my, the results are mighty tasty. The starch in the pasta nicely thickens the sauce and since the pasta is cooked along with the flavouring ingredients it sucks up tons of flavour. The end results were really rather lovely – no, it’s not a replacement for normal pasta and sauce, but as a variation which saves on time (and washing up!) and gives yummy results it’s certainly one recipe to have up your sleeve!

Magic One Pot Pasta

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

rich tomato one pot pasta, vegan

Serves 4

350g dried pasta

500ml passata

500ml vegetable stock

Handful basil leaves

2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced

4sundried tomatoes,chopped

1 tbsp dried oregano

Chilli flakes, to taste

  1. Place the pasta in a saucepan, pour over the liquids.
  2. Place the other ingredients on top
  3. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer, covered, for 12-15 minutes until the pasta is cooked through and the sauce is rich. Make sure to stir ever few minutes so it doesn’t stick.
  4. Leave covered for a few minutes before serving

dairy-free egg-free one pot pasta

 

Pasta Primavera with Chive Gremolata

dairy-free pasta primavera

Pasta for the whole family so often reverts to a tomato based affair, and whilst it can have numerous variations and be utterly delicious it can also become a little monotonous – you need some variety in your life, after all!

I’ve been really craving bright green veg recently – I think the change in season has altered my taste buds and I’m suddenly after colour and freshness. In browsing some cookbooks to get some supper inspiration I came across a risotto primavera but wasn’t quite in the mood for a rice dish, so instead I decided to mix up the idea and it turned into a pasta dish. And not just any old pasta dish, a blinding stunner of a spring pasta dish full of green vibrancy.

The gremolata may seem a step too far, but it really adds the finishing touch, without it the sauce loses it zip and zing, but with it it’s transported to the realms of utterly delicious.

Pasta Primavera with Chive Gremolata (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free,  can be soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

vegan creamy pasta with spring veg

serves 2

  • 3 spring onions, white only, finely sliced
  • Zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Handful asparagus, chopped into 2 cm long pieces
  • Handful frozen peas, defrosted,
  • The green parts of the spring onions
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Handful watercress
  • Handful parsley, shredded
  • 4 tbsp dairy-free cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • 180g dried pasta
  1. First make the Gremolata. Fry the spring onions in the oil until starting to turn golden. Tip into a bowl and add the lemon and chives. Set aside

chive and spring onion gremolata

  1. Put the pasta on to cook. In the same frying pan you’d used for the spring onion frying, add a splash of oil and the onions and asparagus. When they’ve started to soften after a couple of minutes, add the peas and garlic and continue to cook, stirring now and then.
  2. Once all the veg is tender add the watercress, parsley and cream, pour in a ladleful of the pasta water to make the sauce silky. Taste and season.
  3. Once cooked add the pasta to the sauce and toss well. Serve with Gremolata sprinkled on top. 

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Mmmmm Minestrone Soup

It’s freezing out, definitely the weather for hearty soups. I usually make smooth soups to fend off the inevitable comments from the children about unidentified ‘bits’, but I’ve been feeling like a good Minestrone for ages, and it’s a great way to use up whatever veggies you’ve got hanging around in the fridge. Use any combination of veg that you’ve got handy, just make sure to add the borlotti and pasta for an authentic touch.

Minestrone Soup (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan) Caution: contains gluten, to make gluten-free just use gluten-free pasta

IMG_3454

Serves 4-6

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, peeled and chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1-2 peppers, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tins worth of vegetable stock, measure using the empty tomato tin
  • 1/2 tin borlotti beans
  • Handful green beans, roughly sliced
  • Handful frozen peas
  • Handful baby corn, sliced
  • 2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
  • 2 handfuls pasta
  • Handful basil leaves
  • salt and pepper

– Sauté the onion, carrot and celery in the oil until soft but not browned
– Add the peppers, garlic and oregano and cook for a while until soft and fragrant
– Add all the other ingredients (except the basil), bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes until the vegetables and pasta is cooked
– Taste and adjust the seasoning
– Stir in the shredded basil
– Serve garnished with extra basil and olive oil.

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Herby Pasta Salad

This hot weather has made me want to eat more salads than normal. A fresh salad, in my opinion, is the perfect summer’s day lunch. This pasta salad is zingy, fresh and packed full of herbs. Inspired by a recipe in The Enchanted Broccoli Forest this salad is definitely worth trying…

Herby Pasta Salad (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, soya-free, vegetarian and vegan)

serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side

  • 200g dried pasta shapes
  • 2 tbps red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • handful of sunflower seeds, toasted (or mix of sunflower/pine nuts)
  • handful fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • optional, if can tolerate dairy: handful grated vegetarian parmesan
  • other optional additions: cherry tomatoes, olives, sun-blush tomatoes, diced cucumber, sweetcorn

– Cook the pasta until al dente

– Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together the vinegar, oil, salt and garlic.

– Add the pasta, along with the onion and peppers to the marinade, mix well.

– Leave to cool.

– Add the other ingredients and stir well to fully combine.

– Eat at room temperature.

Home-made Egg-free Pasta

I always wanted to make some home-made pasta – I even gave D a pasta machine a few years ago as a birthday present, but somehow it never saw the light of day until today. There always seem to be more important things to do than make home-made pasta. Due to the egg content, neither of my girls have ever eaten fresh pasta and looking online a recipe that wasn’t completely un-like normal pasta was near impossible to find. Luckily I have a cutting from the weekend Guardian newspaper a few years ago in which Giorgio Locatelli gave his recipe for egg-free pasta – so this is the one my recipe is based on, just with the water content slightly changed as I found his far too dry. Giorgio is a legend of Italian food and since his daughter also has multiple allergies, including egg, then his recipe must be worth a go. Worth saying he is also a lovely guy – we met him when eating at his celebrated Locanda Locatelli restaurant in London.

It is essential to use “OO” pasta flour for the correct finish and while it may seem like a lot of salt, you do need it for flavour. This dough was tough to bring together and knead due to the small amount of liquid used, and obviously doesn’t have the characteristic eggy yellow colour of conventional fresh pasta. But, having used the machine (a necessity) it turned into long silky ribbons which were an absolute delight to eat. Pasta making was an unmitigated success. Next challenge: stuffed pasta…. watch this space!

Fresh Egg-free Pasta (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, peanut-free, sesame-free, soya-free, vegetarian and vegan)

serves 3-4, depending on appetite!

  • 400g OO pasta flour
  • 10g salt
  • 140ml warm water

– Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm water.

– Bring together to form a firm dough (it will take time) and then knead for at least 10 minutes to make it smooth. It’s hard work, but necessary!

– Rest for a couple of hours.

– Split into three and roll out using a pasta machine, gradually reducing the thickness until it reaches notch number 6.

– Gently fold up and place on a tray covered with polenta to keep it as dry as possible.

– Continue with the rest of the dough.

– Attach the cutting part of the machine and cut into long ribbons. Hang over a broom handle of further dry out.

– Cook in vigorously boiling water for a couple of minutes max, until ‘al dente’.

– Serve with any sauce you like. Worked a treat with some home-made pesto. Also did some with a tomato sauce.