Gone Vegan

Lindsay Hutton discovers the politics and pragmatics behind a meat and dairy-free diet.

The other day I came across a similar recipe for a vegan Alfredo sauce, but I figured it could use a little something else. I’ve seen a few variations of a dairy-free white sauce for pasta – most build on whipped soft tofu and couple it with processed pine nuts or cashews – but I wanted to get a little crazy. Well, as much crazy as one can get when tossing around pasta recipes. And not use a food processor, because Santa didn’t bring me one.

I used to waitress at a fantastic local Lebanese restaurant. The work was okay, the management less so, but the food was, and is, a Hamilton favourite. It’s simple enough, but Lebanese food remains atop my favourites as it melds two stellar cultural foodstuffs: Mediterranean and Middle Eastern. Big on herbs, earthy spices, greens, pulses, Lebanese food can be easily transmitted to vegan, simply because the diet already relies on a good deal of plant-based protein and very little dairy.

Now and then, I’ll ring up my old place of employment and put in a order for a few cups of hummous, baba ghanouj, or tahina – I could never make it as good and I never will. I opted to use the latter for the base of my NoFredo, and I’m glad for it – this restaurants grinds their own sesame seeds to make the tahina fresh as possible, which cuts down on the acidic aftertaste and pasty texture when bought in a jar at a supermarket. Fresh tahina is light, fluffy and smooth – not entirely unlike a heavy cream sauce.

Without further ado, here’s the rundown. I’m big on truffle oil these days; it’s a pricy bottle, but if you ever want a rich, nutty flavour unlike anything else, I’ve give it a try. You only need a smidge as a little packs a hell of a flavour punch, but the fragrant, earthy undertones match up beautifully with, well, just about anything, especially starches. The other night I had French fries done up in truffle oil, and it was off the hook. However, any good olive oil should do just as well.

 

Truffle Fettucine NoFredo 

1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil

½ yellow onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small red bell pepper, julienned

6-7 mushrooms (any variety works here) sliced

2 tsp truffle oil

1 cup tahina sauce

¼ tsp paprika

Juice of ½ lemon (about 2 tsp)

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (or oregano or basil)

Salt and pepper (to taste)

 

2-3 servings of your favourite cooked fettucine; give a brown rice variety a try. Big ups in fibre and protein and treads far lighter on your glycemic load.

 

1.     Heat a large, heavy bottomed frying pan to medium heat. With the oil, cook the garlic, onion and red pepper until soft. Don’t brown them; keep the heat at medium. Add the slice mushrooms, and cook for 4-5 minutes until soft.
2.     Add the truffle oil, tahina, and stir. Cook for 4-5 minutes just shy of medium heat.
3.     Add several grinds of salt and pepper (perhaps 1 tsp salt, and just under that in peppr). Give it a taste, and adjust to your liking.
4.     Take the pan off the heat, and add the chopped herb. Stir well, and serve atop your cooked fettucine. Top with your favourite vegan parmesan subsitute, or a little nutritional yeast.