I’ve had this cookbook for years called The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein. It has really fantastic looking recipes that use fresh herbs and vegetables. Being a student at the time this book was given to me, I felt taunted by the pages of delicious homemade pasta sauces (calling for 3 cups worth of fresh herbs) and side dishes that ask for a handful of (extremely expensive) pine nuts. It was completely unrealistic for me to make such things at the time, yet they looked so good that I vowed to someday try them.
That was years ago. Now that I have an apartment garden, I can finally try some recipes! I have not forgotten the cookbook – if anything, it has been haunting me – so I make sure to include basil and parsley and other herbs in my plant box every summer. It is so much cheaper and easier to whip up a fresh dish with the main ingredients growing on my balcony.
My favourite pasta recipe is a spicy raw sauce made with fresh herbs and tomatoes. I love it for the lack of cooking, aside from boiling the noodles of course, but that hardly counts as cooking! It has a clean, refreshing taste with a bit of saltiness from the capers and a small kick of spice from the red pepper flakes. The green colour might raise some eyebrows, but don’t worry, people will get over it once they start to eat it.
This recipe has been modified slightly. The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of mint, but I prefer to use extra parsley or basil in its place. It also instructs you to seed the tomatoes, which I don’t bother to do since I think that’s the best part of the tomato. You can use any type of pasta if you don’t want fettuccini; penne works well too. Other than that, I kept everything else the same.
FETTUCCINE WITH SPICY RAW TOMATO, HERB, AND CAPER SAUCE
- 1 lb plum tomatoes coarsely chopped
- 3/4 cup each of fresh flat-leaf parsley and basil leaves
- 1/4 cup of drained capers
- 3 cloves of chopped garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
- pinch of sugar, black pepper and salt, or to taste
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound fettuccine or other pasta
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)
- freshly chopped parsley (optional)
Fill a large pot with water and set it on the stove to boil. We want the pasta to cook while preparing the sauce.
Set aside about one-third of the chopped tomatoes. Combine the rest of the tomatoes along with the parsley, basil, capers, garlic, red pepper flakes, sugar, salt and black pepper in a food processor or a blender.
Blend the mixture until it resembles a paste. Don’t worry if it’s chunky, the olive oil will fix that. While the motor is running, add the olive oil in a steady stream until the mixture is smooth.
Serve it with walnuts and parsley, if using.
This goes really well with a side dish of bruschetta or marinated mushrooms. It’s also easy to make this dish gluten-free. Simply use brown-rice noodles in place of the regular wheat ones.
That’s all for today, folks!