A Trio of Easy Pasta Dishes

Everybody loves pasta don’t they? It’s quick to make, satisfying to eat and if you’re clever you only have to wash up a couple of saucepans! The thing about pasta is – it usually goes with cheese doesn’t it? It’s like fish & chips, spaghetti & bolognese, apples & pears. They just go hand in hand.

But what happens when you can’t eat cheese? When it makes your stomach hurt, gives you a headache, brings you out in a rash or makes you sick? Then you’re stuck.

Or are you?

I have extolled the virtues of Nutritional Yeast before as an ingredient to add to a sauce, stock, soup or to sprinkle on eggs, salad or pizza. But it’s certainly not an actual cheese replacement. It can mimic the tangy taste of cheese when used correctly but it’s not cheese by any stretch of the imagination.

So I’ll let you into a secret about something that I’ve only discovered very recently, that is now my go-to ingredient when having pasta….and I’d never even heard of it until a month ago. What is it? An amazing vegan parmesan alternative called Prosociano by Violife.

I’m not running advertising for Violife or anything (!) but just look at all these amazing products on offer. If you’re trying to reduce your dairy intake or have a problem with eating cheese then this company make a wide range of hard cheese, cheese slices, cream cheese and parmesan alternatives.

I can’t tell you how nice it is to find a cheese that not only tastes nice (hallelujah!) but also grates and melts like cheese ought to. The amount of times I have bought a promising looking vegan cheese only to find I am literally scraping it off my tongue in disgust and then chucking it in the bin. This is a completely different experience. It is stocked at Holland & Barrett, Whole Foods and Planet Organic but if you can’t get to any of these shops then try online at http://www.goodnessdirect.co.uk or http://www.vegancheese.co.uk to order some right to your door. Do it – you’ll be happy that you did!

So here’s a perfect pasta dish for sprinkling on your newly bought Prosociano. On a warm spring evening  (yeh right this is england?!) there’s nothing nicer than the combination of fresh smoked salmon with some lovely green veggies. Makes you feel healthy just eating it! This recipe is easy peasy and incredibly tasty as well.

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Salmon & Green Veg Spaghetti

  1. Put the pasta onto boil (remember gf pasta takes less time than regular pasta so check recommended cooking time)
  2. Melt 2tbsp veggie butter in a pan
  3. Saute 1 leek with a handful of green beans/sugar snap peas
  4. Add a small glass of wine and let it sizzle and bubble for a minute before turning down the heat to low
  5. Add a cup of frozen peas and leave for a couple of mins
  6. Mix up 1tsp cornflour with 1tbsp hot water and add to sauce to thicken
  7. Stir through the cooked pasta with a ladleful of the pasta cooking water if it needs it
  8. Add s&p and a squeeze of fresh lemon
  9. At the very last minute pull apart the smoked salmon and stir through
  10. Top with a sprinkle of parmesan

The first time I ever had gnocchi was sitting in a square in the middle of Athens on a hot sticky evening after having taken the train all the way up from Olympia on the island of Peloponnese with a university friend that I was travelling with. We’d spent weeks bumming it in cheap student b&bs, eating sandwiches and trying not to spend our hard earned cash but after 8 hours on an uncomfortable train all we could think about was food. We talked and talked about what we would eat when we had access to a cash machine and my out-of-bounds credit card! So there we were sitting in a fancy restaurant devouring bowls of the most incredible fresh gnocchi in a rich and creamy gorgonzola sauce. It was heaven. I can still taste it.

So fond memories for gnocchi aside, gnocchi (although not actually pasta since it’s made from potatoes) ought to be naturally gluten free but frustratingly never is. Every packaged gnocchi I have ever seen in the supermarket has wheat flour in the recipe. Grrrrr. I hate it when a naturally gluten free ingredient gets glutened for no necessary reason. Grrrrr. Anyway, obviously you can make your own, I never have but it’s on my list of things to try out! But I have discovered a great gluten free brand called Bionita which comes in a few different flavours (plain, spinach & tomato) and a lovely one by Le Veneziane which I’ve used here for this recipe.

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Gnocchi with mushrooms & artichokes in a creamy  pesto sauce

  1. Put the gnocchi onto boil, it only takes 2-3 mins or so (when it floats to the surface of the water and then you know it’s done)
  2. In a separate saucepan lightly boil a handful of green beans for a few minutes
  3. Saute some mushrooms in 2tbsp veggie butter in a pan
  4. Add 1/2 pint of veggie stock, a small tin of sweetcorn and a few jarred artichokes cut in half
  5. Pile on a large handful of fresh spinach and stir gently until it’s wilted into the sauce
  6. Then stir through a handful of grated parmesan and a 1tbsp of freefrom green pesto (Sacla)
  7. Add the gnocchi & beans to the sauce, give it a mix and hey presto it’s ready!

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Now I don’t know about your family but my kids would happily eat pasta every single night if I let them. So when I do make it I try to hide as many veggies as possible in it! This recipe certainly does that in spades and also gives a nice alternative to an artery-clogging cheese sauce.

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Kid-friendly pasta & veggies with sweet potato sauce

  1. Boil a couple of large sweet potatoes until soft
  2. Blitz in a food processor with 1tbsp grated Prosociano, s&p, a squeeze of lemon juice and a ladleful of the cooking water (enough to get the sauce to a thick & creamy consistency)
  3. Put the pasta onto boil, after 5 mins add a chopped red pepper and a handful of frozen peas/sweetcorn
  4. Drain and mix through with the sauce – it’s as easy as that!

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Hope you enjoy these simple but delicious gluten & dairy free pasta ideas. If you make a version of any of them message me with a picture – I’d love to see your recreations!

 

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