I don’t intend for this post to be about low points. It’s Sunday, I’ve had a good relaxing weekend, and I’m off home on Thursday for a few days on a spontaneous impulse decision.
However, when it comes to training, often the low points are the high points. It’s when you hit that deepest darkest place of pain and fear that you make the most progress. So although my private jiu-jitsu session today with one of the head coaches at the gym was a terrifying experience, I learnt more in that short space of time than I have in a year of regular classes.
As I once told a friend whose plan hadn’t worked out as he’d hoped, “It’s better to make the best out of a bad situation, than to make the worst out of a good situation”.
Vegans, obviously, are particularly good at this – I often say that I don’t know a single group of people who are more appreciative of good food than vegans, although many people expect that to be the opposite. And the few people I know who have tried plant-based diets for any period of time admit that they have never enjoyed their food and cooking as much as they did during that time.
Anyway, so a tough training session may have been a bit of a low point (although in my mind, one of the high points in the end), but I have just scaled new heights in my cooking.
I give you, from the girl who used to settle for a single seasoning and no toppings because “Meh, it’s fine as it is, why waste ingredients?”, Creamy Vegan Tagliatelle with Smoked Tofu!
I had a little carton of Alpro soy single cream lying around, which I had taken home after Ben’s relatives bought some for when I stayed over, mistaking it for a handy little fun-sized carton of soy milk, which was the sole inspiration for this dish. So thank you, Ben’s family!
Obviously I first had a little scout around for recipes for creamy vegan pasta but most of them seem to use cashews or avocados which is absolutely cool but I am not avoiding soy, and, moreover, the only reason I was making this was to use up my soy cream! So it looked like I was on my own. Which is fine by me as I seem to be unable to follow a recipe even when I have one.
I didn’t really get out to do any proper grocery shopping this weekend, so was mindful of not using all my week’s dinner veggies in this meal. Plus, I know I always overdo it on the veggies in my pasta dishes and end up being disappointed with the end result. I figured this didn’t matter so much with tomato sauce-based recipes, but I didn’t want to overpower the creaminess of this dish.
I had a bumper pack of value peppers in the fridge, but only four lonely mushrooms, so decided to go with the peppers. Plus, then I could get some pretty red into my otherwise quite beige dish.
I’m only working 3 days this week since I’m going on Thursday, so I only used one pepper, and sautéed it on a high heat for a bit; I let the pan get really hot then turned it right down as soon as I put the peppers in. I left them there for a few minutes whilst I chopped up some marinated tofu. Again, I was going to use chicken-style pieces but I had the tofu in the fridge and couldn’t see myself using it of an evening, so went with that – another chance to add a touch more colour than the beige chicken pieces would have.
I then moved the peppers and tofu off the heat while I heated up the soy cream on very low heat, with some nutritional yeast, salt, black pepper, and a tiny bit of smoked paprika:
That only took a few minutes as the quantity was so small and soy does not like being heated!
So I poured the pepper-tofu mix into the little pan to coat it with the sauce and avoid the sauce splitting by being poured into a hot frying pan. I drained the white spelt tagliatelle which had been waiting in cold water after being cooked, so it didn’t go mushy, and added it to the empty frying pan, before adding the sauce.
I looked at the lot and thought it needed some green, and might also not fill me up very much for lunch if I was to portion it off in thirds, so I threw in some frozen baby broad beans.
Just enough for three lunches… but no sharing!
Unfortunately I don’t have a full-on recipe, though I have provided some indications in my post.
Also, this dish was so easy and involved so many last-minute decisions on my part that I’m fairly certain you could make any substitutions you wanted, but here is my ingredients list for 3 lunches’ worth:
About 200g tagliatelle
1 red pepper
200g marinated tofu
About 2 handfuls baby broad beans
About 150g soy single cream
About 3tbsp nutritional yeast
Salt, pepper, smoked paprika, a little bit of smoked Tabasco right at the end
Olive oil for sautéing, and a little tiny bit of oil from my jar of sundried tomatoes, just because it needs to be used up!
The portions are fairly small, but it is quite rich and calorie-dense, so hopefully it’ll satisfy me. And if not, well I’ve always got plenty of snacks to keep me going!