Saturday, June 25, 2011

Roasted Vegetables, Farfalle, and Vodka Sauce

Although this recipe seems complicated, it isn't. It's comprised of only three elements. Roast the veggies, which can be done ahead if you wish; make the vodka sauce, which can also be done ahead of time; assemble the main ingredients while you cook the pasta and then combine the whole thing into one great meal. 

I went a little crazy this week. My local health food market had such great prices on vegetables, I bought way too many. I mean, there sat these large red, yellow, and green bell peppers at 3 for $1.00. Mixed or matched. I couldn't resist and put two of each color in my basket. The market also had portabella mushroom caps, palm-sized, at 3 for $1.99. Who would pass up a deal like that? I came home with 6. The list of good buys goes on and on. Do any of you know what I'm talking about?

Of course the day rolled around when a peek into the Frig told me I'd better use up what was left while everything still looked appealing. Next thing I knew, I was creating another mystery dish. Vegan, of course. Since I've always loved Pasta Primivera, I thought I'd model my dish after that. Imagine my surprise when it turned out better than it's role-model. Does that mean I'm a master chef hiding in grandma clothes? No. It means I poured a vodka sauce over the whole thing in an effort to ramp up the flavor. It was an inspired decision. Give it a try. I bet you'll like it.


Roast your vegetables. I used red, yellow, and green bell peppers, tomatoes, onions and portobello mushrooms. Cut the vegetables into sections, spread them on a cookie sheet, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Do not cut the vegetables into tiny pieces as they will burn and have to be thrown out. You can roast any amount of veggies on hand. At my house, leftover veggies are used in many ways.

Prepare the vodka sauce

2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. vegan butter or margarine
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes (I buzzed mine in the food processor as I wanted a smooth sauce)
1/2 cup soy milk or soy cream
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/3 cup vodka

In a large skillet, heal the oil and butter. Add the crushed tomatoes, cream, salt, and pepper. Cook for a minute or so, stirring once in a while. Add the vodka and continue cooking on low for about 5 minutes. Because I like thick sauces without the addition of flour, etc. I let the sauce cook down on a simmer burner until it was the consistency I wanted.

Fill a pasta pot with water and bring to a boil. In the meantime,

Assemble the vegetables
2 cups roasted vegetables, cut into small pieces. 
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 box frozen peas, thawed but not cooked
8 oz extra firm tofu, cut into small pieces. I used tofu with herbs. It's become my favorite.
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste. Remember the roasted veggies have already been seasoned.

Put the oil in a large skillet with the minced garlic. Saute on low for a minute. Do not burn the garlic or you'll have to start over.

Add the tofu to the pan, stir until the it browns a bit. Add the roasted vegetables, seasoning, and salt and pepper. Saute everything until the flavors marry. Add the thawed peas and continue cooking on low until the peas are warmed though. The peas pop in your mouth as you eat, making them a welcome addition to the roasted vegetables. Canned peas will not perform the same as frozen ones. 

Drop 8 oz. farfalle into the pasta pot. DO NOT forget to add salt to the water or your pasta will be tasteless. Cook the pasta until almost al dente. It will finish cooking in the vegetable medley.  Drain the pasta, reserving a cup or so of the cooking water, and add directly to the roasted vegetable mix. Cook everything together for approximately 2 minutes. If the veggie-pasta mix seems too dry, add just a bit of the reserved pasta water and continue cooking. Pour the vodka sauce over the pasta-vegetable mix and gently stir everything together, being careful not to tear the farfalle.

Bow ties you can eat rather than wear? Who knew? Obviously, the Italians did. They named the bowtie shape, "farfalla," which means butterfly. The more common name in this country is farfalle and is commonly called bowtie.

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