Friday, December 14, 2007

Mushroom & Tofu Pasta Bake

I'm always searching for new ways to take a lazy way out of cooking - which by the way I profess to love most of the time - without compromising my promise to myself to cook from scratch (well, I don't make my own pasta anymore and never make my own tofu or soymilk, so . . . .LOL ). Somehow - it must be because the oven makes the place so warm and cosy - I've taken to popping pasta dishes and other kinds of things in the oven and then sitting back and waiting for them to be ready!

Here's what I did the day before yesterday - and I'm including a lot of photos cuz someone asked me to do step-by-step and so here it is LOL

But first a word about the pasta itself. I found the most delectable kamut spirelli in one of my favourite shops and thought I'd try it out:

I'm sure it comes in many other brands, but this one is organic and is actually available in Ontario! Anyway, here we go:


(for 2 hungry people or 3-4 lighter eaters)

125 g (4 or 5 ounces in weight?) spirelli (you could use penne or whatever) pasta, set aside until ready to cook.
250 g (1/2 lb.) Mushrooms, sliced (measurements can vary - use what you have)
1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
150 g (around 5 or 6 ounces in weight?) Zucchini, chopped (ditto)
1/2 pkg low-fat tofu (you might want to use more so that you have extra sauce to pass at the table)
soymilk and/or stock - enough to thin out the tofu to a cream consistency
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 - 2 Tbsp lemon juice
black pepper
1 Tbsp white miso
crumbs or vegan parmezan cheez for topping (I used my own mix that I keep on hand)
herbs according to taste

Method of sorts:

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Saute your mushrooms - I do it in a little water with a Tbsp low-sodium soy, since I avoid using oil if at all possible.

While you are doing the mushrooms (only a short while - you'll want them to shrink to half size and look 'cooked'), boil some water and drop your zucchini into it for a couple of minutes only - or you could lightly steam them. You don't want them to go at all mushy. When these are done, drain and set aside.

Cook that pasta before you forget!

This kamut pasta is so pretty, isn't it, and it only takes a few minutes. Here it's still in its raw, dried state, but I thought the colours were nicer than I'd ever seen! Pop it into boiling water and keep an eye on the time - I only did mine for about half the time it called for, but you be the judge. You'll want your pasta, regardless of which kind you use, to be a little underdone because it will cook more in the oven.

When the mushrooms are ready, add the zucchini (I cut mine into small pieces so that they didn't take long to blanch and so that they'd mix in with the size of everything else. You might want to decide to do it differently)

and season to taste - but remember that you're going to have a seasoned tofu sauce over the lot, so go easy on salt etc.

Here we are again, all ready for the sauce.

For The Sauce:
Crumble the tofu, add enough soy milk or other liquid (do this a bit at a time) to make it possible to blend into a creamy sauce with a blender or a wand blender. Blend in the garlic and all other ingredients. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Sometimes it's the addition of a little vegan worcestershire sauce that helps a whole bunch, sometimes it isn't needed. Your choice.

Er, no pic of the sauce being made. We're going to just have to live with that. Imagine white. Got it? Okay, onwards!

Stir the sauce, pasta and vegetables together and turn into a baking dish which has been sprayed or lightly wiped with a faint film of olive oil. Here it is:

Top it, if you like, with crumbs, vegan parmezan cheez, or other appropriate crumby topping - or leave it plain. Your choice.

Yeah, well, you're right - it's the same image you got at the top of this post. Life's full of surprises, eh?

Bake for around 20 minutes. I cover mine with a layer of foil, very loosely, and take it off in the last few minutes.

And here it is baked. Now a warning for those like me who like to leave it in the oven until they've finished the first course:
If you leave it too long, it will dry out - but hey that's what that extra sauce I mentioned in the ingredients list is for. This recipe is so forgiving of absent-minded cooks!

Serve with whatever you like - we had ours plain the first day. But we did have a salad beforehand! :)


Josh said...

Hi, this noodle bake looks good. Thanks for taking the time to stop by my blog and adding me to your links. I've added you to my links as well. If you make any of the recipes and have good or bad things to say, drop me an email. I'm going to try and make something of yours soon, still deciding what.

Jackie Vetter said...

I have to take a noodle bake to a dinner on Wednesday and I think I'll try this one! Thanks River, can always count on you for delicious ideas

River said...

Hi Josh! Love your blog!! Thanks for adding the link to this one :)

Hi Jackie! Hope the noodle bake turns out well. Remember, it doesn't hurt to have a little extra sauce, just in case. Also, you'll want to season it according to *your* tastebuds, not mine. Let me know how it goes, okay? Hugs.

River said...

Oh - and Jackie, you can use more mushrooms. Or you can think of other veggies you might like to add.

VeggieGirl said...

such lovely-looking food, as always!! the step-by-step photographs are quite helpful as well - thanks! :0)

caitlin said...

Hi River,

I am a newbie in the vegan department, and have been greedily looking through the various blogs for ideas and 'comraderie.' I found your recipe here for the tofu & mushroom bake, but I wasn't sure what kind of tofu to use; firm or silken. I know you say lo- fat, and maybe most people would know which kind to use, but I am confused. I'm thinking the silken is more for a saucy kind of dish that this is. So,please tell me. I'm starving!!! LOL. p.s. the photo makes it look divine..

River said...

Nice to hear from you, Caitlin :)

You are right - I don't make it clear what kind of tofu to use. You can indeed use silken tofu for a dish like this, but then you'd probably need more of it (cuz it's so wet) - and then probably only a little soymilk or whatever to thin it out. I used ordinary tofu, low-fat firm (or was it medium? - I buy what's available). It's a matter of playing around with the sauce until it looks/feels right to you. The whole recipe, on which I make variants from time to time, is largely intuitive.

Vegan cooking is fun, isn't it? And cooking without added fat is yet another huge challenge which I really enjoy! How long have you been cooking vegan? Anyway, nice to have you here - my first comment of the New Year :)

caitlin said...

hello again,

Thanks for the reply about tofu usage. I used the regular as you suggested. This was a good dish, but I think I will experiment next time with the silken tofu. My sauce didn't ever get really smooth; maybe I didn't blend it enough first. But man, was it goood!
My foray in the vegan world began this Christmas day after I had consumed the better part of a pu-pu platter for one and a copious amount of fried rice. I realized I was killing myself eating like that!!!! My sister has been vegan for many years, and seems to be willing to guide me along in my journey, so we'll see how it goes. I'll be keeping an eye on you & a few other blogs for recipes and good suggestions.

Roberta said...

HI...I LOVE THIS SAUCE!!!!!!! I am vegan and gluten-free, and cooking for my family that way, as well (husband and 2 year old son who is well above average in height, health, verbal skills, etc...I can brag, he's adopted!) When I made this recipe, all 3 of us gobbled it up!!!!! I am making it again tomorrow for dinner! Can't wait! I love it because I do get tired of acidic tomato based pasta dishes! Got any other good recipes for pasta with "white sauces?" Thanks, Roberta

Anonymous said...


Unless you are eating uncooked oil or take your omegas regularily. Either way you need fat in your diet for many reasons including obsorbing nutrients. You cannot obsorb iron from greens without some oil and some vitamin c. So slad dressing and tomatoes or some fruit in your salad are essential if you are not getting iron from meat.

River said...

I don't usually publish anonymous comments, but this one makes a good point. I say, however, that I try to avoid oil where possible (these are for MY reasons :) not reasons I am trying to inflict on others) and by that I mean ADDED oil. I would assume that all health-conscious vegans would incorporate a salad into their meal, and many use nuts or other oily foods in their preparation of their meals - without having to actually cook in oil. Even low-fat tofu has some vegetable fat in it. Oil is hard to avoid - we eat grains and beans and know that we get good oils from those foods.

So relax, okay? But thanks for caring.