Sunday, January 11, 2009

PastaPigs: wholemeal pasta, red cabbage, baby spinach and walnuts, or: I copy a dish

I didn't even mean to go to the supermarket today, but deciding that another day without coffee was untenable, I ended up doing a full shop and halted, skidding-style, in front of half a red cabbage.

I don't usually venture far outside my usual fruit'n'veg preferences. I ignored a number of things today including cucumber apple and dragon fruit in favour of my bananas, avocados, tomatoes, proper garlic, zucchini, eggplant, red onion and asparagus (I'm not really a fruit-eater; I like bananas, avocados and tomatoes, watermelon and some apples as a rule - all others are eaten only provisionally, and don't even get me started on stone fruit and berries).

Red cabbage, however, has been on mind. It started back in New York (you know, daaahling, when I was in Noo Yaaaaahk last year) when Buzz and I had a delicious pasta/soba salady thing with red cabbage here, and I was reminded about that combo last week when Buzz's mum cooked a great teriyaki-red cabbage-spaghetti dish from Vegan Cooking for Idiots for us (isn't she the bestest for buying that book to help her cook for me? I'm all warm and fuzzy about it; it's totally generous and kind and awesome).

So the red cabbage made it home today, along with wholemeal spaghetti, baby spinach and walnuts. Natch, I had plenty of garlic on hand.

I cooked some of the spaghetti al dente, and I think the wholemeal pasta works just as well as what Buzz swears was in the original 'sNice version, buckwheat noodles. I sliced some red cabbage - I took a half a cabbage, and just cut a big slice of about 1 centimetre in width straight down. It looks like a lot but it's not - keep going and chop it up. I minced some garlic and added some sesame seeds and black olives for good measure (and also those bloody sesame seeds have been sitting there for ages daring me to find inventive uses for them). I simply tossed these ingredients, along with the baby spinach and a massive dollop of olive oil, into the drained pasta and shook it all about.

Buzz once told me that my love of garlic can lead me astray. He is quite right, having borne the brunt of it regularly. I did it again here; it wasn't as disastrous as it could have been as I was just cooking for one and the little furry boys don't care, but for future reference, Miss T, one clove of the top shelf stuff is more than sufficient.

Otherwise I think this one will be great once I tweak it, and it would work very well as either a cold salad or a warm main (served hot? No. Don't.).

The brine from the olives was surprisingly effective at cutting through the soft oil and crunchy bitterness without adding too much salt, and I would add more next time. I think I should break down the walnut pieces and be more judicious with them, as even though they provide an almost creamy counterpoint to the bitter cabbage, they are too overwhelming and jarring in bigger pieces. I also overestimated the amount of oil I needed, which was ironic as one of my criticisms of the 'sNice version was over the same fault.

I would also consider adding some halved cherry tomatoes to act in the same way as the olive brine, but I would strongly advise against any other pungents such as onion or spring onion - the cabbage is more than enough.

I'm quite pleased I deviated from my usual pasta cravings here (tinned diced tomatoes, garlic, eggplant, zucchini, chili flakes, salt, pepper, sometimes some NinjaVegan MasterFoods bacon flavoured chips, a dash of passata, drowning a little bit of penne) and will give this one a fair airing as I tweak it to get it right - all potluckers can expect to try endless variations soon!


a vegan about town said...

Miss T, you should totally be adventurous with your vegies! It's exciting. :o)

I'm Philippa O said...

those colours are incredible!

Buttons said...

i have all these things in my fridge slash pantry right now! thankyou for the inspiration, work dinner ahoy!