This weekend my friend Paul asked if I had any vegetarian pasta recipes. There are lots of options here and pasta recipes are quite easy to make up as you go along.
I am not going to give quantities because it depends how many people you are serving, your preferred pasta to sauce ratio and also how greedy you are.
Sauces tend to be cream based, oil based, stock based or tomato based. I tend not to use cheese in the sauce, but to add it at the end and melt it into the sauce and pasta mixture otherwise I find that cheese makes the sauce go gloopy.
One recipe that I particularly like is this:
Fry up some chopped onion, garlic, a chilli (if you like some heat) and then add a medley of mushrooms. Now add a healthy dollop of green pesto and some cream or creme fraiche (if you are dairy free you can use soy alternatives or maybe coconut cream). Heat through and stir in the pasta.
You can use any vegetables that you like as long as you a) chop them small enough to cook them in time and b) cook them in order of hardness. You can also use quorn and vegetarian substitutes. If you eat fish you can add prawns, crab and anchovies.
Here are some ideas for vegetable content:
Onions, garlic, chilli, tomatoes, carrot, zucchini, capsicum, sweet potato, corn, broccolini, cauliflower florets (or puree), eggplant, button squash, spinach (just wilted), fennel, peas, avocado, shredded cabbage, asparagus.
I also like to add condiments such as:
Sun dried tomatoes, Peppadew peppers, pesto (red or green), chilli paste, olives, capers, marinated artichokes.
You can also include:
Cooked legumes such as lentils and beans. Pine nuts, almonds, parsley, basil, sage, dill, watercress, or any other herbs/leaves that you like.
For the liquid base use tinned chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, passata, stock, oil, butter, cream, yoghurt, or creme fraiche. You can add lemon, lime or tamarind to give a slightly acidic taste, or you can add honey or sugar if you prefer a sweeter taste.
Cheese toppings: Parmesan, mozzarella, roquefort, ricotta, goats cheese, feta, cheddar.
Choose a pasta that will go nicely with your sauce – if your sauce is quite fluid, choose something like penne or spirals that will become nicely coated with the sauce.
I also like to make veggie pasta bake in the winter months. I cook my pasta and veggies and sauce till almost done, then I mix them together in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle cheese over the top and finish the dish off in the oven. There are various good pasta bake sauces at the supermarket if you don’t have time to make a sauce.
I hope that these ideas have inspired you – try to keep it simple, just a few good quality ingredients and you will have the best pasta dish ever.