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:
MUSHROOM & TOFU PASTA BAKE
(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! :)