Even in sunny California, one can feel fall in the air and although I cook year – round, autumn has a way of transforming me into a vegan (and Italian) Martha Stewart. My go-to meal often contains pasta in one form or another so be prepared for a semolina storm coming your way in my next few weeks’ worth of recipes.
Some people are surprised when they learn that many pastas are vegan. Most of the dry pasta you find on the supermarket shelf – with the exception of egg noodles – are vegan, made primarily with semolina flour and water. The pasta in the dairy section, laden with fat and cholesterol, is the one to avoid.
Pasta Fagioli combines both ingredients and there are many variations to this recipe. I’m using a bean called “Christmas Lima” from the Rancho Gordo company (www.ranchogordo.com). I was seduced by the beautiful marble color of the beans and the chestnut-like flavor, so I used them to replace the white beans in my mom’s recipe. Feel free to use whatever bean you have available – that’s the joy of Pasta Fagioli.
Because I did not use canned beans, I needed to soak them the night before and boil them separately to soften them up. For this recipe, I’m suggesting canned beans as a time-saver, but feel free to use whatever beans work for you depending on the time you have available.
I’m also using elbow macaroni because I happen to have it in my pantry– any small pasta will do. My mother used to break up spaghetti into bite-sized pieces in her version.
This soup is so simple and hearty. You’ll enjoy it any time of year, but it’s especially wonderful in the fall. Serve with bread and salad and you’ll want to add it to your regular rotation of meals.
Just heat the waffle iron, coat it lightly with coconut oil. Spread almond butter on one slice and jelly on the other – just like you would make a PB&J. I like the almond butter for this recipe – it makes it a little more special.
Put the sandwich in the waffle iron, wait a few minutes until golden brown, sprinkle with powdered sugar, garnish with berries and enjoy.
While strolling through the produce section of the market (one of my favorite past times), I stopped in my tracks when I came upon some beautiful red Bartlett pears. They were perfectly ripe and I knew they would be a great inspiration for my autumn salad. Always leave the skin on your pears because it has three times the fiber of the pear itself and if you’re over forty, fiber is your best friend.
As I continued my walk I spotted a beautiful gold cauliflower – how great would that color look with my pears? That’s right – it’s okay to design your plate the same way you would design your living room – mix and match beautiful colors and everybody wins. Cauliflower comes in multiple colors – gold, green, purple and white. You can use any color that’s available in your market.
Now that I found these two perfect ingredients, I couldn’t put them on just any lettuce. I chose radicchio and frisee lettuce because of their beautiful colors and texture. I added orange carrots and green celery. I diced in a few dates for a sweet surprise. Finally, for crunch, I chose walnuts and pumpkin seeds.
I knew I needed a special dressing to top this rainbow of ingredients. When I spotted the pumpkin display, I needed to look no further. My pumpkin vinaigrette is so rich, it’s almost not fair to call it a dressing. It’s more of a sauce. Drizzle it on the plate – don’t pour it on the salad. By putting it on the plate, you can scoop up just as much sauce as you need – and a little goes a long way. Let the flavor of the salad come through. The recipe will make more dressing than you need, but trust me, you’ll want to save this for other salads, veggies or a dip – it’s that good.
The portion sizes should also be small because it has fat from the olive oil and I try to use a minimal or modest amount of fat in all of my recipes. So all you’ll need is 1-2 tablespoons per person. Save the rest in the fridge for up to one week.
So next time you’re in the grocery store, stroll the produce aisle and get inspired.