Sunday, October 2, 2011

Vegan MoFo! Post #3: Capellini with Vodka Sauce

Foods of Various Cultures...

Hands down, my favorite pasta variety is capellini. I love the delicate texture, and how the thinness provides more surface area to pick up even the lightest of sauces and flavors.

That said, vodka sauce is not, by any means, a light sauce. It's okay. It's still a great pairing, trust me.

It is common in Italian cuisine to use alcohol to bring out the flavor in tomatoes and other vegetables. This is often accomplished with wine, but vodka sauce uses, well, vodka. This was my first time making vodka sauce and I totally winged it. I didn't even know I was going to be making vodka sauce until mid-way through the process of making it. If you tend to shy away from free-style cooking, I encourage you to experiment with whatever's in your kitchen. No recipe, no plan, just go with it and feel liberated! When it comes to cooking, I'm a firm believer in not having firm beliefs. This is why there is jalapeno in my vodka sauce.

So, in the spirit of experimentation, take this recipe as a guideline rather than a formula!

C a p e l l i n i  w i t h  V o d k a  S a u c e

1/2 red onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced 
3 large-ish roma tomatoes, diced
2 cups of mushrooms, diced - I used white button
1 1/2 cups basil, cut into fine shreds
1/3 cup French Onion style Tofutti cream cheese 
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup tomato paste 
2 ounces of vodka (or, one and a half shots)
sea salt to taste 

Saute the onions until softened. Add the jalapeno and garlic, then the tomatoes, then the mushrooms and 1 cup of the basil.

Heat some olive oil in a separate, large pot. Add the tomato paste and cook until almost boiling. Add the ingredients from above, along with the vodka, olive oil and water. Stir. Add the cream cheese and stir until evenly distributed (the sauce should lighten). Bring to a boil and then immediately turn down to simmer. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Salt to your taste.

When serving, garnish with the remainder of the finely shredded basil.

What I'd Do Differently Next Time:
Incorporate the vodka earlier. I think this would enhance the flavors of the vegetables even more than adding the vodka when I did. Use more roma tomatoes.

I served this with a side of broccoli and Tofurkey Italian sausage.