I’ve been travelling, and I’m looking forward to a simple meal at home — something like spaghetti with a tomato sauce filled with vegetables and a salad, maybe. It’s not only the supper that’s the problem! It’s the calm afternoon in my kitchen that comes before it, when I can get things done like emptying the compost, sharpening a knife, or cleaning a cast-iron skillet while my dogs lounge about and slumber in their beds. After a long period of absence, a day like this might seem very indulgent.
For my sauce, I use onion and garlic as well as a slew other veggies such as fennel, carrot, celery, and mushrooms. After deglazing everything with wine and cooking it for an afternoon, I add crushed, canned tomatoes to finish it off. Afterwards, I’ll drain some boiling pasta, continue cooking it in the sauce, and top individual bowls of it with grated cheese and fresh herbs (lemon zest and black pepper are optional).
This week, though, is different. I’m interested in trying Alexa Weibel’s vegan Bolognese and incorporating it into a lasagna, in part because Lex’s recipe includes walnuts and Marmite.
And that’s the yeast extract, which is highly flavorful and salty and comes in the form of a very black, somewhat sticky paste. Sometimes when I was ill as a youngster, my mother would give me a huge spoonful of Marmite that had been broken down and mixed with hot water, which was not nice. Rather of using nutritional yeast or other umami-rich substances, I believe it makes more sense to layer it into the dish you’re making to enhance the tastes.
Ali Slagle’s baked Alfredo spaghetti is a great option if you want something less time-consuming. For example, I like broccoli rabe and use twice as many greens as the recipe calls for, rinsing them under cold water after they’re cooked just until they’re cool to the touch, then squeezing out the excess liquid and cutting them finely.
Aside from that, I like converting this green soup, which is prepared with spinach and peas, into a complete dinner by adding several cooked pasta shells on top of it. It may be made vegetarian if you use vegetable stock as the foundation, and vegan if you exclude the crème fraîche from the recipe. Because it’s so lean and green, I believe it does benefit from a little fat, so if you’re foregoing the dairy, be sure you season the soup generously with good olive oil at the end. I mean, honestly, don’t be shy about it.