gourmet raw vegan marinara pasta

Marinara Pasta

I had so many plans for my blog today that I had analysis paralysis. Then vegan.com posted a challenge on Facebook (well, for most if was probably a question, but I’m a competitive type of girl!) The question was ‘What’s your vegan specialty, the one meal you *really* know how to make?’ So I’m at my kitchen table jumping up and down with my hand in the air saying “pick me, pick me, I know the answer”!

The answer, as those who have been to my place for a raw vegan meal would know, is marinara pasta. Inspired by Juliano and his super sexy RAW: The Uncook Book, I took his genius and customized (bastardized?) this amazing dish – one, I do have to add, that impressed the finest of judges (no, not Gordon Ramsey, but close): Dave Miller, runner up in the 2010 series of Master Chef!

It is, without doubt, one of the best pasta dishes I have ever had – raw or cooked… and trust me, I’ve had some good pasta. I wouldn’t blame you for asking, ‘but how can it be good/pasta/tasty, it’s not even hot?’, as it took me a while to get my head around it too.  Interestingly though, there are really two key concepts that make pasta so yummy and satisfying: the al dente texture of the pasta and the complex deliciousness of a marinara sauce, and this recipe captures both parts perfectly. Granted, you can’t go in expecting it to taste exactly like a cooked pasta, but you avoid the processed flour with useless high GI carbs and the heaving bloating due to slowed digestion, and gain all the benefits of vitamins c and a, folate, potassium, beta carotene, iron, antioxidants, and all the other intangible benefits of eating fresh raw vegetables…

So enough babble, on to the good stuff! However, I am going to preface this by saying it is a gourmet recipe. Like any gourmet recipe the list of ingredients is not underwhelming and a bit of prep time is required. So consider yourself warned, don’t go bitching about raw food being too difficult and writing it off – there are literally tons of easy raw pasta recipes out there but if you’re new to raw food or even just willing to try a new dish, I recommend you invest the time and not skimp on flavor – why eat boring food when you can have something truly delicious?!

I find this makes two dinner-size servings and a smaller serving for my lunch the next day…

Ingredients – pasta

  • 2 x large portobello mushrooms
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1/2 cup Nama Shoyu (this is a raw gluten-free substitute for soy sauce – you could use soy if you’re not a crazy raw foodie but Nama Shoyu is tasty and worth investing in
  • 2 decent size zucchini
  • 1 x small red or yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes (I love using cherry or grape tomatoes for the sweetness)
  • 1/4 cup shallots, chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup basil, chopped finely

Instructions – pasta

  • First, slice the mushrooms and onion into thin slices (if it’s just for me I cut the mushrooms into bite-size pieces but for decoration it looks nice in long thing slices). Place in a shallow dish and cover in Nama Shoyu to marinate. You can leave them for hours, the onion goes softer if you do but I’m rarely that organized and they come out pretty well in the time it takes me to prepare the rest of the dish).
  • Second, peel the zucchini, then use the vegetable peeler to shave the zucchini into long thing strips into a bowl (this is your pasta!) I find it best to rotate the zucchini as I peel as opposed to peeling one side down to the core then the other, it gives you nice thin strips similar to fettuccini. You can also use a vegetable spiralizer to make curly pasta if you have one. If you’re peeling, I don’t usually use a lot of the seeded part in the middle, it gets a little tricky.
  • Third, slice the peppers into long thin slices and add to the zucchini with the rest of the ingredients.

Ingredients – sauce

  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (the tastier your tomatoes the tastier the sauce, so pick good ones! Grape/cherry or heirloom are great)
  • 1/3 cup red pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves (I actually like using dried organic orageno as fresh is not always easy to find/store)
  • 2 green olives (not required but good if you have on hand)
  • 1/4 cup shallots
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 cup cold-pressed EVOO
  • 1/4 red wine (not a necessity if you don’t drink alcohol but I like the depth it adds… and maybe I’m a vino-holic?!)
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic, depending on your taste for it – I like more
  • 1 teaspoon minced jalapeño – again, more or less depending on your taste
  • Sea salt, pepper, other spices to taste

Instructions – sauce

  • Throw everything in a blender and blend until smooth – easy!

If you’re confident in the kitchen you can, like with any marinara sauce, add other stuff or omit some of these things as you see fit or if you don’t have them on hand – I find this is a great guide though. Also, once it’s all blended, taste it and add more seasoning and blend until you’re happy with it.

To serve straight away: you can drain the mushrooms and onion and add to the pasta then mix with the sauce – letting this sit for a few minutes will soften the ‘pasta’ a little, or you can layer it up in individual bowls/plates. Garnish as desired.

To keep some for later: don’t mix – the pasta will go soggy. Store the pasta, mushrooms/onions and sauce separately and combine when required. Sometimes I make extra sauce to use as a dip – it tastes great with flax seed crackers.

Enjoy xx

Guide: raw vegan | whole food, plant based | gluten-free | nut-free | sweetener-free | soy-free

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