Veganomicon's Caramelized Onion Pumpkin Penne Pasta--the "Enlightened" Version
Caramelized Onions, Crunchy Topping, Creamy Filling--Healthy Deliciousness
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Never in a million years would I have picked this recipe out of Veganomicon. But my husband zeroed right in on it--he thought it sounded good. And his instincts were right. It's fantastic, and it works well--perhaps even better--when you cut out all the extra fat that's in the original recipe.
Delete olive oil. Delete vegan margarine. Delete full-fat tofu. Substitute heart healthier walnuts for cashews, and cut the nuts in half.
Number one secret ingredient: Get yourself a bag of Ian's Whole Wheat Panko Bread Crumbs. You'll never need to add oil or butter to get a crispy bread crumb topping again. These crumbs are naturally brown and naturally crisp, without a drop of added fat.
Veganomicon's Pumpkin Baked Penne Pasta with Caramelized Onions and Sage Crumb Topping
"This is a rich and creamy baked pasta casserole that blends the best flavors that Fall has to offer. The pumpkin is subtle, but sweet caramelized onions and a hint of nutmeg complement it nicely."
-Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero, Veganomicon-
OK, I admit this is a bit of a pitchky patchky of a recipe, but it's worth the effort. It's company fare, and it will provide you with dinner &/or lunch for at least a few days. Plant-based casseroles really do stay fresher longer than meat dishes. Besides, it's so creamy & delicious--and except for the walnuts (which I cut in half)--I've removed every speck of the added fat from the original recipe. Over a 1/2 cup of olive oil and margarine! Yes!!!
Click here to get the recipe on a single page for easier printing.
Time: About an hour. Just turn on NPR, or some music, relax, and enjoy the prep time.
3/4 pound uncooked whole wheat penne pasta or ziti (I like Hodgson Mill Organic Whole Wheat Penne with Milled Flax, 12 ounce box)
2 large sweet onions, sliced very thinly
1 recipe of Walnut Ricotta (I subbed the cashews for healthier walnuts) See below for the recipe
1 TBS. brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
White pepper and cayenne
2 cups pureed pumpkin, or 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree (do not use pumpkin pie mix)
1/4 cup vegetable broth (plus more for sauteeing the onions, and heating the sage crumbs)
Walnut Ricotta recipe:
Makes 2 cups
Time: 15 minutes
Great for lasagna, or stuffed shells
1/4 cup raw walnut pieces (I halved the amount) *The walnuts might be optional--I just haven't tried the recipe without them.
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, fresh or roasted
1 pound firm low-fat tofu, drained and crumbled (I recommend NaSoya Lite Firm Tofu)
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
1. In a food processor, blend together the walnuts, lemon juice, and garlic until a thick creamy paste forms.
2. Add the crumbled tofu to the food processor, working in two or more batches, in necessary, until the mixture is thick and well blended.
3. Blend in the basil and optional salt.
Sage bread crumbs:
2 1/2 cups of Ian's Whole Wheat Panko crumbs (make your own crumbs if you can't find these--but they are worth looking for--and widely available)
1/4 cup chopped walnut pieces (you could chop them in a processor or put the nuts in a bag & smash them with a rolling pin) *These walnuts are optional--the recipe will work without them.
2 tsp. dried, rubbed sage
1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1/2 tsp ground paprika
salt (optional) & fresh pepper to taste
1. Mix all the ingredients together.
Preparation--putting it all together
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
2. Lightly spray at 9 X 11 or 9 X 13 inch lasagna-type pan with non-stick canola spray (or use 2 smaller pans)
3. Cook the penne pasta according to the package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again. Set aside.
4. Making the caramelized onions. Add about 1/4 cup of vegetable broth to a large, preferably non-stick frying pan, and preheat over medium heat. Saute the onions, stirring occasionally until soft, golden, and caramelized, about 15 minutes or longer. Add more veggie broth if needed. Sprinkle the onions with a little sweet paprika, to create a richer golden color, if desired.
5. Place the walnut ricotta in a large bowl and fold in the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, nutmeg, white pepper, cayenne, and vegetable broth (1/4 cup), and mix.
6. Add the cooked penne pasta, and caramelized onions into the pumpkin mixture, stirring to coat the pasta.
7. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan(s) and press lightly with a rubber spatula to level it.
8. Heat up about 1/4+ cup of veggie broth in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the sage crumb mixture and heat for about 3-4 minutes, stirring often, to combine all the ingredients, and moisten slightly. Note: You might be able to skip this step--which is included in the original recipe because you need to combine melted margarine into the crumb mixture.
9. Remove from heat & sprinkle the crumbs evenly on top of the penne pasta.
10. Bake for 30 minutes, until the top of the penne is golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Nutritional Info based on 1/8th of the recipe
Pumpkin Penne wt Caramelized Onions & Sage Crumbs
Serving Size: 1 serving
|Amount Per Serving|
I love feedback! If you try a recipe, please let me know how it turns out. What you liked. What you didn't.
Coming in December: Isa Chandra Moskowitz' New Cookbook
Appetite for Reduction: 100 Fast and Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes
One of my readers alerted me to Isa's upcoming cookbook--due Dec. 7, 2010. I can hardly wait. She sent along a teaser with this link to some of the photos of the upcoming recipes .
Absolutely delicious-looking, and all are less than 400 calories per serving, low in fat and sugar, and high in fiber.
Thank you, Isa for lightening things up a bit. Best of all, she's promising that a healthy dinner can be on your table in under forty-five minutes. Link to Amazon. Exactly the kind of cookbook we all want, right?