People say Italian food is great for vegetarians but, to be honest, Italian restaurant food is not much good for vegans as it contains no protein and leaves you hungry. I invented this dish about a year ago when we first came to Berlin and was desperate to find vegan sources of protein. This was before I discovered the bio and Asian supermarkets which both have great tofu. The idea is to take any tomato based pasta sauce and add finely ground nuts to enrich. It makes the sauce thick and delicious and full of protein. I use almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts as they are easily available here. Peanuts would not work as the flavour is too strong. Dave and I call this By Vegans for Vegans as it is the kind of dish that we need to eat but which restaurants and non-vegans would never think to offer. We need sustaining food and spaghetti tomato sauce or pizza without cheese just does not qualify.
We add ground nuts to a lot of things and keep a tin of ground nuts on the kitchen counter. We grind our own but you can buy them ready ground in the baking section of the supermarket. This is very handy when we go camping and we don’t have access to a coffee grinder.
This dish is super quick to make if you use a good quality stir through sauce. I add a few ingredients to perk it up. It took me about 15 minutes from start to finish. I used pfefferlinge which are yellow chanterelle mushrooms and very widely available in Berlin at this time of the year. I have never seen them in the UK. You can use normal mushrooms but leave them chunky.
250g of wholewheat pasta twists
A jar of good quality stir through pasta sauce-I like the Sacla brand but not all are vegan.
1 large tomato finely chopped (optional)
A good splash of white wine (optional)
Fresh oregano (optional)
A crushed clove of garlic (optional)
Tablespoon of olive oil
2 tablespoons of ground almonds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Soften the garlic in the olive oil and add the mushrooms. Stir until half cooked then add all of the other ingredients except the nuts. Stir and cook with a lid on for 5-10 minutes until the tomato has softened. Stir in the ground nuts.
Meanwhile add the pasta to plenty of boiling water and simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain and stir the sauce into the pasta. Season to taste. I served this with the fennel and apple salad.