Pasta and lentil soup with kale and cabbage

A warm and comforting soup based on pasta e lenticchie, which is often made with just ditalini, but broken spaghetti or capellini, or pasta mista are also common. This recipe uses ditalini, but adds farfallini and fideo for variety. This is ‘soupier’ than the traditional dish and makes a small bowl for 4 or a larger bowl for 2. Double the pasta for something more traditional and filling or serve with fresh baked bread sticks as shown here.

Ingredients

For the pasta
6T semolina flour
1t plant-only egg replacer
2-3T lukewarm water

For the lentils
1 cup water, and 2T water, separated
1/2 cup brown lentils (black, green or dupuy will also work)
1 ‘sprig’ dried kombu, about 1″
2 scallions, minced, 3″ – 4″ green reserved for garnish
1/4t coarse sea salt
1T garlic
1/2t dried basil, rubbed
1/4t dried oregano, rubbed
1/4t dried thyme, rubbed
A pinch dried rosemary, rubbed
A pinch dried marjoram, rubbed
A pinch dried red chilis and/or 1/4t black pepper, freshly cracked
1T lemon juice
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups tomato passata (or puree)
1 cup shredded green cabbage
1 cup green curly kale, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2T fresh basil, chopped finely or chiffonade
Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste

Optional: Add a teaspoon coconut sugar (or similar) if you like with the other herbs for a little more balanced flavour. Spinach would be more traditional than cabbage and kale, but chard would also make a nice alternative. Saute the scallions, et al., in a little cooking oil instead of water, or finish the dish with a little drizzled olive oil for a richer taste and mouthfeel. Replace the lentils with chickpeas or white beans.

Method

Start the lentils, then make the pasta.

In a large frying pan with a lid, bring 1 cup water to a light simmer. Add the lentils and kombu. Cover, simmer for 30 minutes until they are fully cooked but still al dente.

While the lentils simmer, combine the dry ingredients for the pasta, add the water and knead until you have a smooth, elastic dough. If you knead for 2 – 3 minutes and the dough is still a bit dry, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, but give it a few minutes. When smooth, cover with a warm wet tea towel and let rest about 15 minutes.

When the dough has rested, prepare and cut the pasta shapes you’d like. See the notes below on how to make the particular shapes. Your lentils should be about ready by the time you are finished with the pasta. Drain, reserving the kombu. Set the lentils and kombu aside.

Warm the pan on medium heat. Add the 2T water, scallion, garlic and herbs. Stir fry for about 2-3 minutes. Add the cabbage and stir fry for another 3 – 5 minutes. Add the lemon and deglaze the pan. Add the stock and 1 cup passata. Return the lentils to the pan.

Return the pan to a light simmer, reduce heat to medium low and simmer 10 minutes. Remove the kombu. Add the kale and stir to combine. Return the pan to a light boil.

Add the farfallini and ditalini and simmer 3 – 4 minutes. Wait a minute or two before adding the fideo. Add the remaining passata and return the pan to a simmer. Simmer another 5 minutes or so until the pasta is done. Remove from heat.

Add the nutritional yeast and stir to combine. Season to taste. To plate, ladle out and garnish with scallion green sliced on an angle, basil, and some additional nutritional yeast if you like and serve.

Making the pasta
Any or all of these shapes will go well in this dish. I also use ricciolini from time to time. Toast or fry the fideo if you like. You can also use boxed pasta, but you may want to parboil separately depending on what you use.

For farfallini, roll out the a large rectangle about 1/8″ thick. Cut 3/4″ x 1/3″ rectangles (smaller if you can). The ends of farfallini are often rounded, but rectangles will be much easier. Working quickly, pinch each strip firmly in the middle with the edges of your thumbs. If you want to make them even smaller, you can always try a pair of tweezers. Let dry on the board.

For ditalini, you’ll either require a dowel or something similar (something long, round and needle-like, but even in diameter). Roll the dough out to about 1/6″ and cut into 4″ x 1/2″ strips. Wrap the dough width-wise around the dowel and pinch closed (so that you have a long, 4″ tube).

Roll gently on the cutting board to create long, even tubes, about 1/3″ in diameter. Slide off the dowel and repeat. If your dowel/dowel replacement is long enough, do longer pieces of dough. Let each dry on the board.

For fideo, some people simply use broken spaghetti, although traditionally, fideo is actually a Spanish noodle and has a slight curve. If you have a lot of experience with chiffonade or julienne, this won’t be a difficult shape.

Roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick (thinner if you can). Cut into long rectangular strips about 1 1/2″ high by several inches long. Carefully and precisely cut 1/8″ strips. Roll each strip gently with a few fingers to round it. Either curve each strip a little and let dry on the board, or gently arrange on a curved glass and let dry there.

When ready, add to the soup as directed

Tacos with spicy tempeh, white miso sauce and baby greens

Soft, hand rolled corn tortillas, warm spicy tempeh and lime accented greens make this a lovely and flavourful dish. Fresh tortillas are terrific and when you make them from scratch, you control all of the ingredients. Be sure to use masa harina rather than regular corn flour
for this recipe. This makes eight small tacos.

Ingredients

For the tempeh
1T cooking oil
1T fresh garlic, minced
1T red Thai chili paste (or similar and/or to taste)
250g tempeh, crumbled (use pasteurized)
1/4 cup tamari (or to taste)
1 cup vegetable stock
1/4t coarse sea salt

For the tortillas
1 1/2 cups masa harina
1/2T ground flax seed
1/2t coarse sea salt
1 cup hot water

For the white sauce
1 cup unsweetened plant milk (I use soy)
1/4t coarse sea salt
1T white vinegar
1T sesame seed butter
1T white miso
2T tapioca flour dissolved in 2T cold water
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

For the greens
1T olive oil
1t lime juice
1/4t coarse sea salt
1T nutritional yeast
1 cup loose baby kale
1 cup loose baby spinach

For the garnish
1/2 cup passata (or tomato puree)
1/2t red Thai chili paste (or similar and/or to taste)
Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste.
2T nutritional yeast

Method

First, start the tempeh, then the tortillas, the white sauce, the greens and the garnish.

In a frying pan with a lid, bring the oil and sea salt to heat on medium high. Add the garlic and chili and fry for 2 minutes. Add the tempeh and fry for 3-5 minutes. Add the tamari and deglaze the pan.
Add the stock, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes.

While the tempeh simmers, make the tortillas. Mix the dry ingredients and add the water. Stir to form a smooth, pliable dough, neither too dry nor moist. If the dough is too wet, add more masa 1T at at time; if too dry, add water 1T at a time. Divide the dough into 8 equal parts, and flatten each into a 2-3″ round disk. Cover the dough with a damp cloth while you press the tortillas.

Heat a frying pan on medium high heat. If you have a tortilla press, follow the instructions provided.
If you don’t, roll the tortillas out gently between two sheets of plastic wrap into rough circles about 1/8″ thick, about 5-6″ in diameter. It’s the peeling of the tortilla that’s of the most difficult part — go slowly. Carefully peel and add the tortilla and cook until the top of the tortilla is start to look dry. Flip and cook the other side (it should be about 1 minute each side, a little more on the first, a little less on the second).Little brown spots make a tortilla look lovely. Repeat for the remaining 7 tortillas and cover with a warm, very lightly damp tea towel.

Let the tortillas rest for about 20 minutes to cool and soften until you’re ready to use. The tortillas will keep, but you’ll likely have to steam them to use them later. At the 40 minute mark, preheat the oven to 450F. In a shallow pan with sides, bake the tempeh for another 20 minutes or until the moisture has been absorbed the tempeh has started to brown. Ovens vary; use the colour as your guide. Don’t overcook.

Start the white sauce and broil the tempeh for another 5 minutes. In a small sauce pan, bring the soy milk to a simmer. Add the sea salt, miso, sesame seed butter and vinegar. Stir to combine and simmer for 5 minutes uncovered. Slowly add the tapioca solution stirring continuously until it thickens.
Remove from heat and season to taste. Remove the tempeh from the oven. Let the white sauce and the tempeh cool for a few minutes.

While they cool, whisk the dressing for the greens and toss. Whisk the ingredients for the garnish.
To assemble, fill each tortilla with 3-4T tempeh, 2T white sauce, 1/4 cup greens and then about 2t passata mixture. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast and serve.

Black lentil mezzaluna in a sesame white sauce with oyster mushrooms and kale

Similar to pierogi, mezzaluna are a lovely and decorative pasta, filled here with a lightly spicy combination of black beluga lentils, poblano peppers and Brussels sprouts, served in and a rich sauce of white miso, sesame seed butter and oyster mushrooms. This makes an appetizer portion for 4 or large plate for 2.

Ingredients

For the filling
1/4 cups black lentils
2/3 cups water
1 ‘sprig’ dried kombu (about 1/2″)
1T cooking oil
1/4t coarse sea salt
1 scallion, minced (3″ – 4″ green reserved for garnish)
1/4 cup poblano pepper, chopped finely
2 Brussels sprouts (about 1/4 cup scant), minced (or green cabbage)
Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste
For the dough
1 cup semolina flour
A pinch sea salt
1/3 cup water
1t olive oil
2 liters water and 2t coarse sea salt for boiling
For the sauce
1T cooking oil
1/4t coarse sea salt
1/2t dried basil, rubbed
1/4t dried oregano, rubbed
1T fresh garlic, minced
1/4 cup oyster mushroom, wiped and finely chopped
1/2T lemon juice
1 cup unsweetened plant milk
1T sesame seed butter (I use a fairly traded brand)
1 cup green curly kale, finely chopped
1T arrowroot flour dissolved in 1T cold water
1/2T white miso
2T nutritional yeast
Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste

Optional: Replace the Brussel sprouts with sun-dried tomatoes for something slightly more flavourful.

Method

Start the filling first, then the pasta, then the sauce. In a small pan with a lid, bring the water to a boil. Add the lentils. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 30-40 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the lentils are tender. When the lentils are done, remove the kombu, rinse the lentils and set aside.

While the lentils simmer, make the pasta dough. Mix the flour and salt. Mix the water and oil. Mix the wet and the dry. The dough may seem too dry initially. Keep mixing, and then knead until as a smooth elastic dough forms, and then another 2-3 minutes. Cover with a warm wet tea towel and set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes.

When the lentils are ready, in a medium frying pan, bring the oil to eat on medium high. Add the cooking oil and sea salt. Add the scallion. Saute for 2 minutes. Add the pepper and Brussels sprouts and saute for 5 minutes. Add the lentils and stir to combine. Remove from heat. Set aside covered to cool.

Roll out the dough on a floured board in a large rectangle about 1/10″ thin. Cut small circles about 2 1/2″ round. Bunch up leftover dough, roll out and cut. Repeat until all of the dough has been used. Aim for 16 circles.

When the dough has been cut, add a heaping tablespoon of filling to each in an oblong shape in the middle. Carefully pinch closed, starting with the top, one side, and then the other. Squeeze out any excess air. Crimp both sides of the seam with a fork. Let sit to dry lightly while you make the sauce.

In a large pan with a lid, bring the cooking oil and sea salt to heat with the sea salt on medium high. Add the green herbs and saute for 1 minute. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the oyster mushrooms and saute for 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and deglaze the pan. Add the soy milk. Bring the pan to a light simmer. Add the sesame seed butter and stir to dissolve. Simmer lightly, stirring occasionally while you finish the pasta.

In a large pot, bring the 2 liters water to a boil with the sea salt. Add the mezzaluna carefully to the water and boil lightly until they float (should be 3-5 minutes). They’ll float when done. Don’t overcook. Drain them carefully in a colander, reserving 2T of the pasta water. Rinse the pasta gently with cool water.

Add the pasta water and the kale to the sauce and stir to combine. Simmer another 2 minutes. Stirring continuously, add the arrowroot mixture until it thickens. Remove from heat. Add the white miso and stir until dissolved. Rinse the mezzaluna with hot water, drain and add them to the sauce. Stir gently to coat. Let stand 2-3 minutes to cool. Season to taste.

When lightly cooled, plate the mezzaluna and pour sauce over them. Add the scallion greens sliced on an angle. Dust with nutritional yeast, and serve.