veganmofo 5: spiralized beet & zucchini pasta…with pasta

Becuase my birthday’s in July and I live in Portland, we always have houseguests on my birthday. This year it was Jim, an old, old friend who has become a super healthy eater after getting hit with (and giving a beat-down to) cancer. His partner also has health issues, and what she’s found that works for her is a pretty high-raw diet. So Jim was singing the praises of his spiralizer.

He asked if I had one and I said I didn’t, because it’s another one-job gadget and I just couldn’t bring myself to buy one. If I came into one, either as a hand-me-down or a gift, I would love to play with one. Before Jim left, I was gifted a spiralizer. Because he’s a friggin’ mensch.

zucchini spiralizer

Well, I love it. Maybe it’s because it’s still summer in Portland (94 today, cats ‘n’ kittens!), but I have yet to do what I thought I would do first: spiralized tempura. What I have done is quite a bit of experimenting with zucchini and beet pasta and come up with favorite.

I’ve done the complete pasta swap, so it’s potato or zucchini or beet, and that works. But I do super love wheat pasta so I instead use half the wheat pasta I would before and just bulk it up with a bunch of spiralized vegetables. Warning: This is not a raw dish. At all. If fact, we’re cooking the beets at high temp so they caramelize, because caramelized beets are the jam. The roasty flavor comes through in this pasta and plays perfectly off the tofu and the almost-raw zucchini and the nooch you will inevitably douse this with.

This recipe comes together in a bunch of steps, so it’s really nice to have an extra set of hands. It might go faster with an extra pan on the stove, but I wanted to keep it down to a pasta pot and my wok (could probably do it in a big frying pan, but I’m a pretty messy cook so the wok is safest). With a helper, you can still have it done within 20 minutes.

What you need (or at least I do) for two decent portions:

  • ¼ package linguine
  • 1 package baked tofu, chopped bitesize
  • 2 medium beets, peeled
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small or ½ large onion, chopped (red or sweet, it’s up to you)
  • 2 Tbs panko
  • 1 large or 2 small zucchini
  • 2 Tbs olive oil, plus 2 Tbs Earth Balance or other vegan margarine or yet more olive oil
  • salt, red pepper, nooch to taste

What to do with all that food:

Get your pot of water going for the pasta.

Spiralize the zucchini and let sit on tea towels or paper towels—you want to give it a chance to drain a little so it stays crisp and doesn’t steam itself when you heat it up. Some people give it a dash of salt to encourage the water to drain out. Do whatcha like. Also, you can now spiralize the beets and just let them sit on top of the zucchini. You’ll stain the zucchini a little but whatever.

browned tofu

Heat up maybe 1 tablespoon of olive oil in your pan and add the chopped-up baked tofu and brown it up. I despise squishy tofu, and this does soften up a bit once you add it to the vegetables at the end, so keep that in mind. Set the tofu aside so you can use the pan for the rest of your cooking.  Try not to nibble on it the whole time!

spiralized beet

Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Tear or cut up the beet strips into manageable pieces. Cook them on high heat with a dash of salt and crushed red pepper (dundicuts, if you can!), and when they just begin to go tender, add the onion. When you see the carmelization start, then garlic and panko and turn your heat down to medium. Add more olive oil if you need to, and stir to avoid straight-up burning. There’s a difference. You can start cooking your pasta now.

beets and zucchini

With about 5 minutes left on the pasta, turn off the heat on your vegetable pan. I know in the photo the beets look crispy—they’re not, just very cooked down and so sweet and roasty. At this point, add the zucchini, then for the very last minute, add your patiently waiting tofu. You can add the Earth Balance to this pan now, or to individual bowls with your pasta.

beet zucchini spiralized pasta tofu

Divvy up your tofu and vegetables, stir it up and nooch, nooch, nooch. (And apparently move it to a table with super-low light.)

I love this pasta because it’s so nutrient-dense (it’s got everything!) and filling and tasty as hell. Remember, between the beets and nutritional yeast, your pee will look unearthly. Seriously, don’t freak out. You just ate one of the strongest natural dyes around and a load of B12.

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