If you decide to go 100% raw, chances are that you will miss one or more of your favourite foods. Pasta was one such food for me, when I was eating a 100% raw diet last year. Then I discovered raw pasta.
Raw pasta is one of those foods that, when you taste it for the first time as a raw foodist, you rejoice. You realise that you can still get your pasta fix without the cooking or the empty white flour. And, if you are not a raw foodist, you can still appreciate the flavours, textures and colours in the dish.
So what is raw pasta made of? In its simplest and most usual form, it’s spiralised zucchini, tossed in a cold-pressed oil and a little salt. If you don’t have a decent spiraliser*, you can create long ‘pasta’ strips by peeling the zucchini down to its seeds. You can then coat your pasta with a nut-based dip or a tomato-based sauce to create a dish similar in texture and taste to your favourite conventional pasta dish, and that is sheer bliss.
In my post of 6 August 2010, I introduced Matthew Kenney’s cashew nut cheese. This turns spiralised zucchini into a wholesome kind of macaroni cheese and it is pretty darned moreish. I have since modified this cheese recipe for my own tastes and needs, and it features as a staple meal selection at home.
Even though I had made a delicious raw soup using butternut pumpkin (also known as butternut squash, depending on where you are in the world) in September last year, I was not inspired to use this versatile vegetable for any other raw dish until my David Wolfe retreat at Samudra in February [thanks again, Leisa!]. Chef Brenden Vallejo wowed us with his creativity at every meal, and I was particularly impressed with his pumpkin pappardelle, which he matched with reishi, shiitake and porcini mushrooms. Needless to say, it wasn’t long thereafter before I too tried my hand at pumpkin pasta.
This recipe takes a fair amount of preparation time, especially if you are like me [= deathly slow at using a peeler], so allow yourself 30-45 minutes to make it the first time around. As always, I recommend using local and organic ingredients.
Recipe #123: Raw Butternut Pumpkin Pasta. Serves 6-8 as an entree.
[Incidentally, I think it’s kind of fitting that Recipe #123 is so easy to make – so easy, in fact, that my 3-year old was able to help me with some of the elements! Now when someone asks me about the difficulty level of a task, I can tell them, “It’s as easy as recipe number 1-2-3.” Sometimes I don’t think I should blog late at night…]
You will need a good vegetable peeler, whisk (or fork), citrus juicer (or fork), mortar & pestle (or fork) and two large bowls. See how versatile and essential a fork can be as a kitchen utensil?
Ingredients you will need:
► 1 small butternut pumpkin
► 1 clove garlic
► apple cider vinegar
► good olive oil
► salt, to taste
► pepper, to taste
► 110g walnuts, shelled & weighed out of their shells
► few sprigs marjoram
► dulse flakes, to serve
► [optional] parsley flowers, to serve [I actually think that fennel flowers would be brilliant with this recipe]
Start by preparing your pasta. Cut the ends off the pumpkin and peel off the skin; all of this can be composted. Next, peel long, thin strips from your pumpkin, as long and even as you can make them. Peel until it gets to hard to handle or you get close to the seeds. Place the peeled pumpkin into a large bowl; save the rest of the pumpkin for another recipe. My efforts reaped 550g in pumpkin ‘pasta’.
Next, make the dressing. To do this, pour a good lug of apple cider vinegar and twice as much olive oil into the other large mixing bowl. Roughly crush the garlic clove and add it to the bowl; do not finely chop the garlic, as you want to remove the bits of garlic before you use it on your pasta. Add a sprinkling of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
Whisk until the emulsion becomes creamy in texture. Taste. Add more of anything you feel is lacking. Whisk well. Taste again.
When you are happy with the flavour, pour a little dressing (minus the garlic) over the pumpkin pasta then toss it through, ensuring that just enough dressing is added to coat your pasta without making it dripping wet.
I am deliberately imprecise with my measures for the dressing, as it all depends on personal taste. You can quickly make more dressing if you need it. It also stores well in the fridge if you make too much.
Next, crush the walnuts into large crumbs, using a fork or a mortar & pestle, and add to the pasta.
Remove the marjoram from its stems and finely chop, then add it to the pasta.
Toss all of this through the pasta very well, tasting and adding more salt and pepper as needed (and it will probably need more salt).
Serve stacked beautifully in a bowl and sprinkle with dulse flakes and parsley flowers, if you can get your hands on them.
Please give this recipe a go and let me know what you think. While it does take a bit of prep for a dish that requires no cooking, this comprises no more time and care than a decent pasta sauce and it looks just as impressive.
Have an excellent week!
*Spiralisers are mechanical kitchen devices that shave vegetables into long, thin strips. Different types and brands are available from many home & kitchenware shops, organic/health food stores, and online (eg. via Raw Power, Healthy Valley Organics, Raw Pleasure).