My pasta machine has been languishing at the back of a cupboard for far too long so I am very grateful to Alex Connell, chef and Principal Tutor at the Vegetarian Society’s Cookery School in Cheshire, for inspiring me to get it out again! Vegan Ravioli was just one of the many dishes I was challenged to make on the Vegan Toolkit Course I attended last week at the behest of Cranks. Along with fellow food bloggers Choclette from Tin and Thyme, Becca from Amuse Your Bouche and Shaheen from Allotment2Kitchen, I rolled my sleeves up and donned my apron.
Alex began with some knife skills before swiftly moving on to a whole batch of vegan standbys which are really useful to have in my armoury! Each took moments to make and one or two were total eye openers. Vegan Pesto is a regular feature at Thinly Spread but Alex jazzed it up with Chipotle paste and I know my vegan boy will love it! Next up was Vegan Mayonnaise, it took seconds and I can honestly say I wouldn’t be able to tell it apart from the egg version! Vegan Pancake batter was a cinch and I got my hands dirty with a quick pizza dough!
Each of us then chose a quick dish to prep and serve, I went for Solomon Grundy, a paté made with braised tofu, while Choclette had her first go at Tofu Scramble (a regular feature on our breakfast table), Shaheen whizzed up some vanilla cashew cream and an apple sundae, Becca made creamy mushroom paté and Grace from Cranks cooked up some really tasty Quesadillas.
I’d forgotten how simple and satisfying pasta making could be and I was genuinely impressed with the vegan ravioli filled with spicy pesto and topped with tomato sauce we all made. I actually think that the pasta was better with the egg left out; it was lighter and softer.
I was so taken with pasta making that as soon as I got home I blew the dust off my own machine and made another batch of vegan ravioli! This time I filled it with a mixture of mashed, roasted parsnip, dried porcini mushrooms, leek and sage before topping it with Portabello mushrooms in a savoury cashew cream – perfect for these wild and windy winter nights. Don’t be put off by the length of this recipe – it is all easy bite sized pieces!
- 130g 00 pasta flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup water
- 1tbsp olive oil
- 1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp dried sage
- small handful of dried porcini mushrooms, soaked for 20 mins in boiling water and finely chopped (Keep the soaking liquid!)
- 1/3 of a leek, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 cup cashews
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsps olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 2 large portabello mushrooms, thickly sliced
- The other 2/3 of the leek, finely chopped
- Soak the cashews in cold water for at least an hour (not essential but it does make for a creamier cream), drain and blitz in a food processor or blender with the remaining cream ingredients until smooth.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/350F, roast the parsnips in the olive oil and sprinkled with sage for 15 - 20 mins until browned and soft
- Lightly fry the leek in a little olive oil until soft, add the garlic and drained porcini and fry for a further minute
- Mash the parsnips, stir the leek and porcini into the parsnips, add pepper and a little more sage to taste
- Add the flour, salt, water and oil to your food processor, whizz briefly until combined, it should hold together when you press it together with your fingers
- Bring together into a ball and knead gently for a few minutes until pliable.
- Divide the pasta dough into 4 balls and roll out
- Pass each piece through your pasta machine on the widest setting, fold it in half and repeat until you have a neat rectangle
- Pass each piece though each setting until you get to the final setting - my machine makes very thin pasta on the final setting so I stopped at the penultimate setting instead!
- Cut the pasta into rectangles (size is up to you - delicate parcels or generous pillows!)
- Place a tsp (or more if you've got pillows) of filling into the centre and fold it in half
- Flatten around the filling carefully to remove any air and seal the edges by pressing together with a fork
- Lightly dust a plate/work surface with flour and leave your ravioli while you cook your mushrooms
- Fry the portabello mushrooms and the rest of the chopped leek in a little olive oil until browned and juicy
- Add the garlic and fry for a further minute
- Add 2-3 tablespoons of your cashew cream and heat gently
- Add a little of the porcini soaking liquid to thin your sauce
- Season to taste
- Bring a large pan of salted water to a rolling boil
- Add the pasta and cook for 45 seconds
- Remove with a slotted spoon and drain in a colander
- Serve immediately topped with the creamy mushrooms on a bed of watercress and rocket salad, garnished with chopped parsley and sliced chilli.
I learned so much at the Vegetarian Cookery School and I’m chuffed to bits that Cranks are working so closely with them – two of my favourites joining forces to spread the veggie word! I’m looking forward to sharing some more of the vegan toolkit tricks I now have at my disposal so watch out for more recipes over the coming weeks, here’s a taste of what’s to come – didn’t we whip up a fine feast?!
NB: You will have far more cashew cream than you need for this recipe – I urge you to use it to a make a vegan lasagna, use it to top burritos and tortillas, spoon it into a bowl with chilli or anything else which would be pepped up with a bit of creamy goodness!