On the way to the grocery store yesterday, I heard the faintest bumpbumpbump from my car. I turned down the radio and heard some more bumpbumpbumps and then a loud pop. I pulled over and watched my tire slowly deflate. It was hot. I was sweaty. My phone’s battery icon was blinking, warning me that it was seconds away from dying. So there I was, with my poor Volvo blocking the entrance to some state building’s parking garage, sweat dripping off my face, holding a phone on the brink of death.
I’ll spare you the rest of the grueling details of my terribly long day, but it goes without saying that when I finally got home, I was exhausted. After laying around lazily for a bit, I decided that the only thing that would allay my frustration over my third — third — THIRD flat tire in a year was some quality time with my kitchen.
I wanted to make something creamy, comforting, and warm, but I’ve also had several requests for vegan recipes. Luckily, I recently stumbled upon a delicious recipe for tomato basil cream pasta — completely free of animal products! I’ll admit I was skeptical. If something has “cream” in the name, it’s gotta have “heavy cream” in the ingredients. As the sauce cooked, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it thickened well, was flavorful yet light, and tasted just as delicious as any non-vegan sauce, if not more so.
I served the pasta with yellow squash from the Stoltes’ garden and new potatoes. I would have preferred the squash with green beans, but we ran out of green vegetables after a roasted-broccoli-and-green-beans midnight snack sesh. Then again, I’ve never really been one to complain about too many starchy things on a plate.
Oh, by the way! My friend Jackson was over for dinner and taught me a money-saving trick, borrowed from Ina Garten, for my tomato paste. Simply measure it out a tablespoon at a time, wrap it in plastic wrap, and freeze! I had 6 or 7 tablespoons left over that would have been thrown away or grown mold in the fridge. Now they’re tucked away in my freezer door for my next tomato dish.
Tomato Basil Cream Pasta, adapted from Vegan Yum Yum. Approximately $6; serves 4 very hungry people.
2 large, ripe tomatoes
1 c. raw cashews (I had closer to 3/4 c. and it still came out great)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 c. water
A couple glugs of olive oil
8-10 cloves of garlic, minced. Next time I’m using more but not everyone loves garlic like I do.
8 oz. thin spaghetti
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. oregano
3/4 tsp. dried basil
some freshly cracked pepper
About a cup of chopped basil
Core the tomato, then roughly chop it. Add it to your blender (seeds, skin and all). Add cashews, tomato paste, and water. Blend until very smooth: about a minute — you shouldn’t be able to see specks of cashews from a couple feet away. It will be salmon-colored.
Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute until golden-brown — don’t burn it! Pour sauce from the blender into the saute pan and bring to a simmer. Add salt, basil, and oregano and let cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. If your sauce looks too thin, add a few tablespoons of water (I didn’t need to). Taste and season more if necessary. Let simmer for about 10 more minutes. Cook and drain your pasta. Add pasta to the sauce pan with black pepper. Toss to coat. Serve immediately, garnished with the fresh basil.