Friday, June 1, 2007

On a Roll with Vegetarian Times

Of course it would work out that the point in time that I am insanely busy is also the time that I am in the mood to cook. Lucky for me, the current issue of Vegetarian Times is keeping me busy and the recipes I've chosen have been quick ones. Last night's was another quickie, and as it so happens, was another vegan recipe.

Spaghetti with Spinach and Mushrooms caught me with the picture in the magazine. A full page photo of beautiful orange-yellow spaghetti is entwined with spinach leaves, mushrooms, and chickpeas. It just screams "Eat Me!" Reading through the recipe I was intrigued, the spaghetti was prepared like Fideos and Risotto- meaning the pasta is toasted before being cooked and then it is cooked in broth like risotto. With an ingredient list only 9 ingredients long, I was suspicious as to whether or not it would work out, but I wanted to give it a whirl anyway.

I had to make a few changes. The first being for the heat called for. It called for Harissa or red pepper flakes. I have yet to try harissa (an African spice blend) so I had to use the red pepper flakes, and that I had to use far less of since I was making it for kids. I also had to eliminate the saffron called for, since I don't have any on hand. Instead I used some turmeric to add the yellow color I knew the saffron would contribute. Everything else I used as is and it turned out very well.

The combination of toasted pasta and earthy mushrooms really gave this spaghetti dish some depth- and that umami that I want with a hearty pasta dish. The spinach and chickpeas were perfect as well, although Andy and I both agreed to add more mushrooms next time, something like baby bellas or portabellas for added earthiness. He commented that it tasted like it was missing something. I have to think it's the harissa, so I am going to have to get my hands on a good recipe for it so I can have it around. More heat would have been excellent too for the adult palates, but Abigail ate it as is, so I can't change the heat too much. I'm sure the saffron adds something subtle as well, but I confess that the one time I cooked with it I really didn't care too much for the floral essence it contributed to the dish, so I likely wouldn't add that anyway.

Overall, a surprise keeper. The pasta did take a little longer to absorb the liquid than the recipe said it would, but for the most part it was extremely quick to put together and very satisfying. Spaghetti with Spinach and Mushrooms is in the Recipe Trove for anyone interested. I should probably mention that we did use whole wheat pasta even though the recipe didn't call for it. It was perfect for this dish- and if you're looking for a place to try and squeeze in whole wheat pasta, this would be the perfect disguise for it.

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