Paola, George, and Julie Anne

If you had invited me for a vegan meal 6 months ago, I would have crinkled my nose and made a semi-polite excuse not to join you, but if you invited me for pasta… no problem. The fact it might be vegan pasta doesn’t matter. Pasta is pasta, and everyone loves pasta.

BTW, I mentioned last month that my appetite went AWOL after my heart surgery. Most of the food that did appeal to me, was vegan. Tal Ronnen would probably cringe (I saw him crinkle his nose when microwaves were mentioned), but luckily I made tons of his recipes in advance, so I could easily “heat to eat” while I recovered. They stand up beautifully to the personal chef approach.

In the past, meatless pasta was the one form of vegetarian food that was acceptable in my world, but I never would have dreamed you could make such a creamy, artichoke filling using key ingredients like pureed cashews in place of the cream, and nutritional yeast flakes to produce a parmesan cheese like flavor.

Tal making pasta with the Kitchenaide attachment I long for
I’ve never made pasta from scratch before (that pasta attachment I wanted for Christmas is still on my wish list), so I jumped at the opportunity to learn from The Conscious Cook himself, Tal Ronnen, at Le Cordon Bleu college of Culinary Arts last January.

Making vegan pasta just takes a little imagination… Tal used silken tofu in place of the egg, then adds red palm oil for color. He quickly brought the dough together in a food processor, kneaded it for five minutes in the KitchenAid fitted with a dough hook, and started feeding it through the pasta attachment repeatedly until he had a thin, smooth sheet of pasta that he set on the counter already dusted with semolina flour. Using a ring cutter, he quickly pressed out the discs for the tortelini. 

Jewels leaning how to make tortellini

Oops! Added a little too much filling under chef’s watchful eye

We started fliping each disk over (the air dries it out quickly so you have to move swiftly with each tortellini. Filling the side that was not previously exposed to the air gives you a more supple surface to work with) with the scrumptious, cooled artichoke filling.

Jewels in learning mode

I did it!

Next we pinched the edges closed with our index fingers, and twisted the ends around (into a form that looks like miniature sombreros), and pinched again to seal into shape. Just a few minutes in a pot of boiling water, and wella… delicious vegan tortellini ready for the sauce of your choice. In this case a saffron cream sauce.

The Conscious Cook

Fancy something meatier, but still want to stick with vegan? Make spaghetti, linguine, fettucine, or any shape you like coupled with Gardein or Match Meat alternatives to make hearty classics like spaghetti Bolognese or “Chicken” and broccoli in a creamy Alfredo sauce.

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  • April 12, 2010
    9:34 am

    Hi Julie Anne,How exciting is it making pasta. My mother makes it quite often and my little Mia just loves it.Every known type is made and she often makes so much of it that many of it is given away to friends and family. They love it too and it saves them spending money on store bought ones.Fingers crossed that you get a pasta attachment in the near future.Aussie Mum 🙂

  • April 12, 2010
    4:07 pm

    Wow, that was fast Aussie Mum! You just gave me the excuse to buy the pasta attachment guilt free… I can make pasta as gifts for everyone for Christmas pressies… I'll save enough to pay for the attachment, and they get a yummy homemade gift… win/win situation! Yipeeeeeee!

  • April 12, 2010
    4:33 pm

    Pasta,pasta,pastaaaa!!!!Julie,why did you choose to make vegan tortellini???I always ate traditional tortellini.It would be interesting to taste the vegan version even if I find vegan diet has rules a little exaggerated.Martina D' Epifanio

  • April 12, 2010
    4:36 pm

    It is good for our bodies to take a break from so much meat, good for the environment, and kind to animals. I am not vegan, but I do try to eat animal free at least one day a week. If you learn how to cook great vegan food like Tal Ronnen does in his cookbook The Conscious Cook, it is not even about eating vegan anymore… it is about eating great food. His recipes are to die for!

  • April 12, 2010
    5:42 pm

    I use my pasta attachment quite a bit. For a long while I had a hand-crank pasta machine (wedding present), and I used it all the time too. We've learned to make different kinds of pasta, including our favorites: spinach fettuccine, and basil with ricotta ravioli. You really need to get one now and start playing around with it now, so that by the time you need to make Christmas gifts, you'll be well skilled :-).There's something about chicken noodle soup with homemade noodles that makes it the perfect comfort food.Ps…I ordered Tal's book on Amazon. Looking forward to it.

  • April 12, 2010
    6:19 pm

    Thanks for posting. I look forward to reading the cookbook.Suzanne Voelker

  • April 12, 2010
    8:04 pm

    Thank you for your explaination! =) I must say, I occasionally eat meat.Most of the times I eat pasta…spelt pasta…I've had enough!Martina D' Epifanio

  • April 12, 2010
    8:05 pm

    My husband was raised a vegetarian. We've been together 19 years now and I phased most meat out long ago (he wouldn't kiss me!) 🙂 There are so many delicious substitues that I almost never even think about it. Personally I do feel at my best when I'm eating vegetarian. I'm not a candidate for turning vegan though. I'd drop dead without fancy cheese!Kim Phillips Cuccia

  • April 12, 2010
    8:08 pm

    I'm not that big a cheese eater I Kim. I like cheese, but don't miss it when I don't eat it. I did a cottage pie with Match meat and vegan cheddar grated on top a few months ago, really enjoyed it. It's one thing cooking with it, but I'm not sure if I would eating it completely on its own.

  • April 12, 2010
    8:12 pm

    Thanks for the heads up and the further excuse to buy now Kimberly! I think it will be fun experimenting.

  • April 13, 2010
    3:44 pm

    Hi Julie,Yes, I also crave that Pasta Roller for my much loved Kitchen Aid.I know you love Jamie Oliver, so if you have time it's well worth checking out his Ravioli recipes scattered through his various books. He learned from the amazing Genaro Contaldo who ran one of my all time favourite and much missed restaurants "Passione" in London. Aahh, happy memories of a meal that reduced me to tears when it ended. 🙂

  • April 13, 2010
    8:40 pm

    Thanks JT, I'll check it out.

  • April 13, 2010
    8:41 pm

    That sounds soo yummy!Josie Elder- Chow

  • April 13, 2010
    8:41 pm

    being italian I feel proud you are learning our cuisine. yummy and congrats Jewels-Julie.Manuela Salvade