Friday, September 9, 2011

Late Summer Pasta with Leek, Pepper, and Tomato Sauce

Plate of Pasta and Sauce
Top with Cheese, or Not!

Recipe by Robin

In late summer we are blessed with lots of tomatoes and basil, and this pasta dish features both. We also had a large leek and lots of scallions, but you could substitute any kind of onions. Similar to my Pasta with Onion-Garlic Red Sauce and Veggie Crumbles and Early Summer Pasta with Red and Green Sauce, this recipe can be adapted to include other late summer veggies like zucchini or summer squash.

I happened to have a bounty of sweet red peppers and a few mushrooms, so that’s what went into my sauce. Green bell pepper would have been an excellent addition with its slightly bitter flavor to contrast with the sweet tomato. The green parts of the scallion lend somewhat the same sort of bitter-ish taste.

Ripe Tomatoes, Peppers, Leeks, Scallions, and Mushrooms
Fresh Delicious Ingredients
A few rules for improvising successfully: add each veggie separately and cook it down a bit, stirring occasionally. Start with onions and garlic, then add hardest veggies first and work towards softest (the tomatoes!) Fresh herbs go in towards the end to preserve their flavor. Dry herbs can be substituted, and go in with the tomatoes, so they can get hydrated. If you find yourself short on tomatoes, add ¼ to ½ cup red wine with the tomatoes to make more sauce.

I’ve used the MorningStar Farms “Meal Starter Recipe Crumbles” to absorb the liquid (and flavors!) and to add protein. This textured vegetable protein (TVP) product is a combination of soy protein and wheat gluten. These are not vegan, they contain small amounts of egg whites and skim milk. MorningStar makes only vegetarian meat substitutes, their products contain no preservatives, and the ingredient list looks like real food. One package of Crumbles in this recipe will give you the equivalent of 1 lb. ground meat, but with less impact on the environment.

I hope you’ll improvise with quantities and types of veggies in this recipe. Please post your successes so we can try them!

Plate of Pasta With Homemade Sauce Topped with Cheese
Homemade Pasta Sauce with Parmesan Topping
Late Summer Pasta with Leek, Pepper, and Tomato Sauce
serves about 8

1 large leek, white and green, quartered and sliced, about 4 cups
1 bunch scallions, white and green, sliced, about 1 cup (optional)
4 cloves garlic, minced
10 small sweet peppers, diced, about 3 cups
½ lb. crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 package MorningStar Farms “Meal Starters Recipe Crumbles”
3 lbs. ripe tomatoes
1 tsp. fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 tsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped
½ cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips and packed
½ tsp. salt or to taste
¼ tsp. pepper or to taste
Thin spaghetti Miracle Noodles or wholegrain pasta

Wash and prepare (slice, chop, mince) leeks, scallions, garlic, peppers, and mushrooms as above. Put into separate bowls or containers.

Wash tomatoes and cut into wedges, removing core (top where stem attached) and any bad spots. Extra-ripe tomatoes are fine, and don’t discard the seeds, which have a lot of flavor.

Cooking Tomato Sauce with Veggies
Add Veggie Crumbles Now...or Not
Boil water for pasta. Cook pasta according to directions. If using Miracle Noodles (made from shiritaki mushrooms,) they only take about 5 minutes total, so wait till sauce is almost cooked to add them to the boiling water. Whole wheat spaghetti takes about 9 minutes, sometimes more depending on thickness.

I use an electric frying pan at about 350 degrees F for the sauce. Heat olive oil, add leeks and sauté about 4 minutes, till cooked down a bit. Add scallions and sauté for 2 minutes, then add garlic and sauté another minute, stirring around frequently.

Add chopped peppers and sauté 2 – 3 minutes, till peppers start to release their juices. Then add mushrooms and sauté another 2 minutes, till they release their juices.

Add tomatoes and cook covered for about 6 minutes, till tomatoes have released liquid and look soft, stirring occasionally. Remove the cover and sauté 4 – 5 more minutes to boil off some of the liquid and thicken the sauce.

One Half Cup Shredded Basil
Use a Generous Amount of Basil
Stir in veggie crumbles, salt, pepper, and oregano and thyme. Heat to boiling, stirring to be sure all veggie crumbles are hot. Stir in basil and serve.

Serve over pasta and top with grated Parmesan cheese if desired. Or you can make “Sloppy Fauxs” (like Sloppy Joes but vegetarian!) by serving this over wholegrain burger buns.

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