Vegan mushroom carbonara


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It’s not really a carbonara. There’s no cream, no rich egg yolk, no panchetta. Forgive me while I gluttonly remember how that simple, lovely pasta carbonara tasted, bite by creamy bite. One of the first things my husband ever cooked for me… A bit of richness and sophistication, presented on chipped plate in a ratty kitchen of a squat in Wimbledon. Ok, I’m done now. I enjoyed that little memory, but those lovely irresponsible days are gone, and I just don’t eat like that anymore. For whatever reason you might be looking for a vegan carbonara pasta recipe, this one here is straight up delicious. Even to the non vegans!

Serves two (double recipe for more)
Prep time: 5-10 min.
cooking time about 15 min

1/2 lb of pasta of your choice
1/2 can coconut cream
Assorted mushrooms, sliced (the more, the merrier)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil and extra virgin olive oil
1-2 dried chilies
1 tbs of mushroom seasoning (from an asian market) or a pinch of mushroom liquid or powder stock
pasta water as needed
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

1) Start with your fried garlic topping. This will add so much flavor to the finished pasta. Heat up about 2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil in a wok or frying pan and gently fry garlic till light golden brown. Do not burn. Poor olive oil and garlic into a bowl and set aside.
2) Heat up a tbs of oil and fry the mushrooms on high heat with generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. The panchetta in carbonara is super salty and we’re trying to replicate that creamy, salty flavor. I used 1/2 a box of button mushrooms and 1 cup of porcini mushrooms, but any will do. Stir and fry until cooked down a bit.
3) Start cooking the pasta according to directions. You will need some of the starchy pasta water to thicken the sauce. Also, remember that the pasta will finish cooking in the mushroom sauce.
4) When the pasta has cooked about halfway, go back to the mushrooms to finish the sauce. Add the coconut cream, 1-2 dried red chilies if you want a tiny kick (as long as they are not broken and the seeds stay inside, the pasta will not be spicy), mushroom stock or seasoning and stir. Cook down for a couple minutes, and add in 1 small ladle of the pasta water if needed. It’s ok if it is soupy, as the noodles will absorb a lot of liquid when you add them.
5) Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper if needed.
6) Before the pasta reaches even al dente, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the mushroom sauce. Cook down until pasta is perfectly al dente, stirring so that all the noodles absorb the stock. Add a bit more coconut cream or pasta water as needed.
7) Serve with fried garlic oil on top!


Spicy coconut soup with red curry paste


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coconut-soup-1coconut-soup-2It was so cold this morning that it hurt to breathe through my nose. I would have cursed the day I got a dog except that she was so happy running around the frozen meadow that it gave me the strength to endure the cold after all.

This is the kind of weather that requires a very hot bath, very hot tea, and very hot, spicy soup.

Ingredients for a big pot of soup
Serves 4-6
vegetable oil
2 tbsp Thai red curry paste* (or more if you like it spicier)
5-6 cups vegetable stock
1 palm-sized bit of dried kelp or kombu (optional)
1-2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 can coconut cream or coconut milk (use less water, if using milk instead of cream)
1 – 2 tsp palm sugar
Combination of sliced/chopped vegetables, such as 1 cup mushrooms, 2 cups dark leafy greens of choice (kale, spinach, dandelion, chard, etc) 1 cup bell peppers, 1/2 cup baby corn
1 cup firm tofu
Large handful of cilantro/coriander
green onion or chives
Serve with glistening rice noodles, fat chewy udon or sticky jasmine rice

*I used homemade vegan kaeng kua red curry paste. Recipe coming soon!! In the meantime, this is the High-Heel Gourmet’s excellent post about homemade red curry paste.

1) For a bit of extra flavor, bring vegetable stock to a boil and add in the kelp/kombu. Simmer for ten minutes then remove kelp.
2) Heat up a large soup pot with 2-3 tbsp of oil, enough to coat the bottom. Then add the curry paste (recipe for vegan kaeng kua red curry paste coming soon) and fry the paste until cooked and fragrant. Do not burn!!
3) Add in half the can of coconut cream or the thick part of the coconut milk first. Stir and cook until the oil starts to separate in the pan. At this point, add in the remaining coconut cream/milk, and the vegetable stock. Then add in palm sugar and a splash of soy sauce. Only use light soy sauce as a darker soy sauce will affect the color of the soup.
4) Once at boiling point, turn heat to low and simmer while preparing vegetables.
5) Wash and slice mushrooms and peppers. Wash and chop the greens to desired size (I used dandelion greens and they were delicious. The bitter flavor cooked out of them by the time I ate the soup). Cut the tofu into bite-size cubes. (I used slices of tofu sheets in my soup as that is all I had).
6) Add the vegetables and tofu into the soup broth and simmer till cooked, about 10 or 15 minutes.
7) Cook noodles or rice according to packet and set aside for serving.
8) When ready to eat the soup, add the chopped spring onion, chopped fresh cilantro/coriander and a squeeze of lime juice at the end. This is a key ingredient to freshen the soup with the cilantro and lime and also add the vital sour note from the fresh lime juice.
9) Taste the soup and adjust seasoning if needed.
10) Garnish soup with extra cilantro and lime. Serve with noodles or rice.