With the rise of veganism and lactose intolerance, nut milks are getting popular (also, they’re delicious in their own right). But they cannot be found package-free, and involve mass-scale agriculture and production, so they are quite damaging to the environment. Happily, they are the easiest thing to make at home from bulk-bought organic nuts – all you need is a blender. This same method also works for making your own coconut milk rather than buying it tinned! I make cashew milk for my morning tea regularly, in small quantities adapted to my personal consumption: other than the overnight soak, it genuinely takes only a few minutes.
This hearty pasta dish can be a good way of using up leftover chorizo (and you could leave out the mushrooms if you don’t have any on hand). If you also have a bell pepper you don’t know what to do with (I know I often do), cut it into bite sizes and add them in step 2.
Leave out the cheese to keep it dairy-free.
This pasta recipe is fresh and creamy, very filling thanks to the avocado, and very adaptable: I make it without parmesan if I don’t have any at hand (leaving out the cheese makes it dairy-free), and use whatever fresh herbs I may have instead of basil. Feel free to use only half a lemon’s juice if you’re not big on lemons. It’s also an extra fast recipe, as by the time the penne are cooked, the other ingredients are ready for them.
This is one of my own original recipes. Don’t be put off by the odd combination of ingredients: this doesn’t taste sweet, or even chocolatey, but brings out the deep earthiness of the mushrooms (simple white mushrooms, or chestnut, work just fine). Just don’t go over the quantities indicated (particularly with the vinegar), to keep the flavours in balance.
Instead of rice, you could serve this with sourdough toast if you like.
My very first signature dish, at the age of 8, was something we called “risotto” but was in fact, looking back, a rather embarrassing affair of mixing tomato paste and canned frankfurters, mushrooms, peas into cooked rice. When I got back into cooking as an adult, it never occured to me to attempt it again, just like it would never occur to me to eat pasta with ketchup again (ugh!)On a recent visit to my brother and sister-in-law, I offered to cook for them. Was there anything particular they would like? To my amazement, his answer was, “There’s that risotto you used to make…”This recipe, then, is a grown-up version of that childhood favourite.
A few notes:
- I made this recipe both with risotto (arborio) rice, which is the “proper” way, and with basmati rice. To my taste, the difference was not worth making a fuss about, and it tastes just as good. Therefore, if you don’t fancy standing over the stove stirring for 20 minutes, then use regular rice and in step 6 just pour all the stock in there, cover and let absorb.
- The wine gives a real depth to the taste, but if you object to it, replace with more vegetable stock.
- Omit the optional chorizo to make this dish vegetarian. Omit the parmesan to make it dairy-free and vegan.