Creamy Plant-Based Pasta Recipes
This post has been on my list of to-do-posts way too long, especially since Noodles are one of the most popular dishes in the world.I put together a few facts about noodles that you might not have heard before before we get to the recipe part. Contrary to some believes the first noodles seem to originate in Asia, not in Italy.
Amazingly, a 4,000-year-old bowl of noodles was unearthed in China a few years ago. It is the earliest example ever found of one of the world’s most popular foods. The earliest written record of noodles is found in a book dated to the Eastern Han period of China, in roughly 210 BC, whereas the first concrete information on pasta products in Italy dates to the 13th or 14th centuries.
Noodles even made their appearance in famous art works, like the painting on the left “Man eating noodles” by Flemish Baroque still life painter Adriaen Van Utrecht.
Pasta not only has inspired artists but also has been the focus of a “religious” group, called Pastafari. This movement promotes a light- hearted view of religion and opposes the teaching of intelligent design and creationism in public schools. It centers around the deity “The Flying Spaghetti Monster”.
Funny enough, this movement has been conceived by a fellow Austrian- but I can assure you that not all Austrians have their official photographs taken with a pasta strainer on their head..
Feel free to check out their website for some entertaining reading on Pastafarianism http://www.venganza.org/
Noodles are made from some type of unleavened dough which is stretched, extruded or rolled flat and cut into one of a variety of shapes. The dough can be made from different types of grains. The most well known are made of wheat, rice and buckwheat. Buckwheat’s beneficial effects are due in part to its rich supply of flavonoids. These are phytonutrients that protect against disease by extending the action of vitamin C and acting as antioxidants. Rice flour is a popular and widely used gluten free flour, which contains a ton of fiber (especially when brown rice flour is used), protein and some vitamins. I use rice noodles mainly as a filling for Vietnamese spring rolls (see recipe in main dishes) as I am not very experienced with other Asian recipes.
In the hot Australian summer, I try to avoid cooking as much as possible and serve more raw foods. The most suited vegetable to make noodles are zucchini. I bought this great Swiss spiralizer which works wonders and the zucchini noodles really resemble traditional spaghetti. Our kids absolutely love this device! In the beginning, I had expected some reluctance from our kids, but to my surprise, they absolutely loved the zucchini noodles with raw tomato sauce.
Coming from a country that shares a border with Italy, most of my noodle recipes originate in Italy. I have searched high and low for a more whole food type of pasta, that would stand up to the yummy taste of traditional durum wheat noodles. So far, I haven’t had any great culinary exciting moments. I tried spelt flour noodles and whole wheat noodles but they did not delight our taste buds in the least. So, for the time being, I stick to durum wheat noodles for my Italian recipes. At least they are egg free…
For certain other dishes, I tried out different types of noodles and had wonderful experiences with soba noodles, which are made out of buckwheat. They have a strong, nutty flavor which pairs extremely well with the creamy avocado sauce (see below).
Traditional creamy pasta sauces are mostly made up of butter, cheese and often times cream or eggs. Is there a super healthy vegetable somewhere hidden inside? Probably not. But there are quite a few decadent and nutritious creamy pasta recipes which are made of vegetables. You can experiment pureeing and seasoning different vegetables like white beans or cauliflower to come with your own creamy pasta versions.
- CREAMY BUTTERNUT LINGUINE WITH KALE AND PEAS
The slightly crunchy peas go really well with the softness of the creamy, slightly sweet butternut squash. Many people think peas are just a poor man’s meat or a cheap restaurant side dish that puts “green” on your plate. But peas are really little powerhouses of nutrition.
- SOBA NOODLES WITH CREAMY AVOCADO SAUCE
This is such a simple yet incredible tasty recipe that you can enjoy either warm or cold. Any avocado lover will devour this dish, but interestingly our son, who is definitely NOT a fan of these green vegetables, is very fond of it. The avocado is pretty much only responsible for the consistency of the sauce. The taste comes more from the lemon juice and the fresh basil.
- CREAMY PASTA WITH RED PEPPERS AND ROASTED EGGPLANT
The main sauce in this recipe is made from pureed roasted red peppers- I usually grill a few peppers at the same time and use the remaining peeled peppers in sandwiches and panini or make pepper flavored hummus.
Another great way to pepare the eggplant is to thinly slice it, coat the slices with flour and fry them into eggplant chips. This process takes a little while but is absolutely worth trying.
If anyone has found great tasting whole grain noodles please share this information with me!!