I never really liked Italian food.
I don’t like cheese or meat and pasta always made me feel uncomfortably full and irritable. I know, I suck.
Unfortunately, I married an Italian-American man who grew up eating pasta with Sunday “gravy”, a tomato-based sauce complete with beef and pork meatballs and Italian sausage that was cooked in a large pot on a stove all day long, presumably on a Sunday.
While this could have been a deal breaker for us, our love overcame all and he married me anyways. An epic love story for the ages. Move over, Edward and Bella, you’ve got competition.
Over the past year or so, as I’ve played around more with raw vegan “cooking”, I’ve come to enjoy Italian food made my way. Simple and fresh summer salads made with mixed baby greens, dry-farmed tomatoes, and slivers of fragrant basil, tossed with some good olive oil and sea salt. Chunks of heirloom tomato served with a drizzling of olive oil and sea salt and topped with basil. Um, yeah so what if Salad 1 and Salad 2 are essentially the same salads, one with mixed greens and one without?
My favorite, faux Italian dish however, has always been my version of pasta with marinara sauce. And that’s what we had for dinner tonight:
In lieu of garlic bread, we ate our pasta with a bowl of truffle kale chips:
Pasta with Marinara Sauce
Step 1: Prepare the ingredients
2 ripe cluster tomatoes, chopped
1 cup of chopped red bell pepper
8 ounces of sun-dried tomatoes, packed in olive oil*
6 tablespoons of minced basil
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
0.75 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
2 teaspoons of olive oil (optional)
2-3 large zucchini
Step 2: Combine the ingredients
Dump all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse. Every so often, use a spatula and scrape down the sides of the processor to make sure everything is well combined.
* I like this brand of sun-dried tomatoes:
Step 3: Create pasta noodles
Cut off the tops of two large zucchinis. Using a vegetable peeler on each zucchini,, create “fettuccine” noodles.
Keep peeling the zucchini until you start to see the seeds in the zucchini, like so*:
Step 4: Mix noodles with marinara sauce and plate
* You can juice the zucchini stalks, cook them into soup, or you can make your dogs a mini version of the pasta as an extra treat.
Truffle Kale Chips
These were baked in the oven, so technically, they’re not raw. Usually I dehydrate my kale chips, but dehydrating also takes 10-12 hours, and I wanted a quick fix tonight.
Step 1: Preheat your oven
Set the oven to 365 degrees.
Step 2: Remove stems from kale leaves
First, rinse the kale leaves thoroughly and pat dry.
To remove stems from leaves: The easiest way to do this is to place your left hand around the bottom of the stalk, forming a fist around the stalk (light grip). Holding on with your left hand (keeping the light fist), pull the stalk down past your left fist with your right hand. The kale leaf should move down through your left fist and out of your left fist. Do this in one, swift motion. Ideally, the stalk should completely separate from the leafy part of the kale leaf.
Step 3: Season with oil and salt
I like a strong truffle flavor so I like to season my leaves with truffle oil and truffle salt.
Step 4: Bake until crisp
Place kale strips flat on a baking pan lined with foil and place in the oven until crisp.
Beware: These are highly addictive.