Pasta with Vegan “Ricotta,” Toasted Walnuts, Parsley, Lemon, and Garlic Oil

Yield : 4 servings

This new dish was inspired by a delicious-sounding recipe in a recent issue of a culinary magazine.

I don’t create a lot of pasta recipes for the warm months, as it can seem a bit heavy.  But this combination seemed light and springy.  Icould just imagine the warmy toasty flavor of the walnuts playing off the appealing “grassiness” of the parsley, and the bright freshness of the lemon.  And, indeed, it is exactly right for a spring evening or even a weekend brunch, say, for Mother’s Day in just a few days.

The non-vegan inspiration recipe called for ricotta cheese for which I knew I could easily substitute mashed tofu.  The remaining ingredients were all vegan, but the garlic chips sprinkled over the top seemed unnecessary and time-consuming.  So, my version omits them, yet contains plenty of garlic, and it is only cooked enough to add a mellow pungency to the beautifully balanced dish.

I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know what you think!

8 ounces whole wheat pasta (I used rotini)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 large cloves garlic, minced

8 ounces soft regular tofu (not Silken)

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Zest of one large lemon + extra for garnish

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley + extra for garnish

1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces + extra for garnish (I dry toast them in a skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally)

Red pepper flakes to taste

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling over medium-high heat  with the lid slightly ajar.  Add the pasta, stir once, and simmer, reducing heat if necessary, for approximately 9 minutes or until al dente.    Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the olive oil and garlic over medium heat and very gently simmer for 2 to 3 minuts or until the garlic is softened and just barely begins to turn golden.  Then, in a small bowl gently mash together with your fingers the tofu, nutritional yeast, sea salt and pepper to taste (it’s important to season every layer), adding the lemon zest toward the end.  The tofu should be broken down into fluffy “chunks” about the size of peas.  When the pasta is done, drain it well and return to the pot.  Drizzle the olive oil over, sprinkle with parsely and gently combine.  Add the mashed tofu, walnuts and a few red pepper flakes; gently combine.  Check for seasoning, adjust as necessary, and serve warm garnished as desired.

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  1. This sounds SO delicious and simple Betsy. I’m going to share now 🙂

  2. You know, Alisa, I was about to offer it to Go Dairy Free earlier this week. But I realized that Mother’s Day was almost upon us, it would be perfect for brunch, and you’d need more lead time. But I’ll be sending something your way soon. Glad it appeals to you–it’s really satisfying but oh-so-light.

  3. Thank you for this recipe! I was looking for new interesting recipes to serve at a vegan-based meal for a church meeting held today, and this was extremely well-received. Our UU church’s vegan membership is growing, although I’d say we’re still clearly in the minority. Our recently-hired minister is vegan, as is her husband, so that has helped our meat-loving members be more polite about it, at least 😉

    Some of our vegans today were convince this recipe had cheese in it, but I assured them it did not. I left out the red pepper flakes, I’m sure that would add a different dimension; and I substituted cilantro for the parsley, because that’s what I had.

    I’ve bookmarked your site, and am looking forward to being inspired by more of your food stylings! 🙂

  4. Rachel, what a fun message to receive! Bravo for you AND your church for revamping what we called down south “dinner on the grounds.” Many an animal lost its life so that good church-goin’ southerners could have some food and fellowship. Ay, yi, yi. Sounds like your members are becoming very enlightened–hey they tried the food!–helped along by folks like you, your minister and her husband. Kudos! Your substitution of cilantro sounds tasty indeed. I really appreciate your taking the time to share your feedback. Pasta for a crowd can be a little daunting. I’m impressed that you took it on–especially since some of the diners weren’t vegan converts–and clearly won some of them over. All the best to you and yours!

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