Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Super Quick Vegan Tomato Basil "Cream" Bucatini for Food 'N Flix: Eat Pray Love

This month's Food 'n Flix movie selection is Eat Pray Love. A friend gave me the book by Elizabeth Gilbert when I was going through a life change of my own--leaving a longtime job that I was no longer loving, or even happy at and trying to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life. Basically trading security and money for passion and well... much, much less money. ;-) I liked the book. Many think it was self-indulgent and the author self-absorbed, and that's probably true, but I think when you are trying to find yourself and make sense of how you fit into the world, self-absorption is pretty much part of the deal. Although I couldn't afford to spend a year traveling the globe, I could relate to much of the "journey."

Enjoying the book and being a big Julia Roberts fan, I fully expected to love the movie. Ehh... not so much. There is some gorgeous scenery, wonderful food, Julia is just fine, and I find a little Javier Bardem to be quite yummy, but damn that movie drug on... and on... and on...! Tragically, I bought it, thinking I would want my own copy. I watched it once and had to split that viewing into two parts. A friend asked to borrow it many months ago and keeps apologizing that she hasn't watched it yet. I don't mind. ;-) This is 180 degrees from when I loaned another friend my copy of the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth... I swoon!) and I missed that DVD from the very first day I lent it out and kept enquiring about it. Had she watched it yet? Did she love it? Was she thinking of watching it soon and returning it? I have none of the same feelings for my copy of Eat Pray Love, which is why I didn't watch it again for this month's Food 'n Flix. Bad me, but once was more than enough.

For my film inspired dish, I thought about making a Balinese dish or maybe some Indian curry, but I ended up with a strong pasta craving and a box of bucatini so Italian it was. I have had this Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Sauce from Vegan Yum Yum: Decadent (But Doable) Animal-Free Recipes for Everyday by Lauren Ulm tagged to make for ages as I am into cashew cream right now. I am lucky enough to live where I can get locally-grown tomatoes and basil this time of year. Both help make this simple creamy sauce sing, so if you don't have access to good fresh tomatoes with flavor right now, bookmark this recipe and make it in the months when you do have them. It is fast, easy, full of flavor and the way it coats the pasta and slips into the holes in the bucatini is wonderful. There are a few less calories in the 1/2 cup raw cashews and more healthy fats than in a 1/2 cup of heavy cream and whether you are vegan, vegetarian or carnivore--you'll love the sauce.

Vegan Yum Yum says, "You can make this sauce in the time it takes to boil the pasta, so this simple sauce makes a 9-minute meal that's hard to beat. Cashews are the base of most of my favorite vegan cream sauces because they're very rich tasting and blend easily, allowing you to create a velvety smooth sauce in your blender."

Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta
From Vegan Yum Yum by Lauren Ulm
Serves Two

6 to 8 oz whole wheat spaghetti (I used bucatini)
1 to 2 large, ripe tomatoes (about 2 cups roughly chopped)
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp tomato paste (I used 1.5 Tbsp sundried tomato paste)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced, optional (I used all 4 cloves)
(I added 1 pinch of crushed red pepper flakes)
1 tsp salt
2 to 3 Tbsp wine or water, optional (I used white wine)
1 to 2 tsp freshly cracked, coarse black pepper
1 large handful fresh basil leaves, chopped

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the directions on the box.

As the pasta is cooking, core the tomato, then roughly chop it. Add it to your blender, seeds, skin and all. Add the cashews, water, and tomato paste. Blend until very smooth.

Add the olive oil to a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden, being careful not to burn it. Pour the sauce from the blender into the sauté pan and bring to a simmer. Add the salt and let cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If desired add the wine or water to thin out the sauce. Taste and season, if necessary. Let it simmer until pasta is finished cooking. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it well. Add pasta to the sauté pan with the black pepper and freshly chopped basil leaves. Toss it to coat. Serve immediately, garnishing with more pepper and basil.

Notes/Results: One word... Mmmmm... This sauce is decadent, creamy and has lots of great flavor. I did add all four cloves of garlic--how could I not?! I had a tube of sun-dried tomato paste that I think added more flavor than regular tomato paste and a pinch of crushed red pepper was a good little kick for the dish. The book says whole wheat spaghetti, but this sauce is so dense that I think a thicker pasta is the way to go. I loves me some bucatini. I could have possibly thinned the sauce out a bit more with white wine, but flavor-wise it was fabulous. I will definitely be making this one again.

The deadline for this month's Food 'N Flix, pick Eat Pray Love, hosted by Elizabeth of The Law Student's Cookbook is January 28th. If you don't make the deadline for this one and you like food and movies, consider joining us for February. I am hosting and excited to watch and cook a dish inspired by one of my very favorite fun films, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Opa!

In addition to Food 'N Flix, I am sending this yummy pasta dish to Presto Pasta Nights founded by Ruth and being hosted by Emma of Souperior this week. Check out Emma's roundup post this Friday for lots of wonderful pasta dishes.


  1. It's funny, I actually get CRAVINGS for bucatini. no other pasta shape...just bucatini. So weird.

    THis cream sauce sounds fabulous! Love that it's vegan. I wasn't such a fan of the movie either and didn't read the book. Maybe I should have...

  2. I am not a vegan, but this sounds amazing!!

  3. Oh, I love big, fat bucatini- find it pretty irresistible, actually! This sounds like a great dish, I can't believe it's vegan! Thank goodness I didn't buy this movie before watching it is all I can say. Phew ;P And yeah, I have certain movies that I can't bring myself to loan out. I'd actually rather buy a "loaner" copy than part with mine.

  4. This looks absolutely delicious!

  5. Such a pretty color, I've recently been using cashew cream in dishes, so I am looking forward to trying this one!

  6. I've been meaning to try cashew "cream" for ages, it sounds so good! This dish looks simply fantastic. I didn't like the movie either, but I did like the book. It was a bit self-indulgent but I felt like there were plenty of philosophies in there that were applicable to my life as well.

  7. I know Eat, Pray, Love was very much a foodie and yogi kind of movie, but I found it rather slow and boring. I thought it'd have a bit more excitement and a bit more food (Julie and Julia anyone? No Reservations anyone?)

    Anyhow, love how you make cream out of cashews. I do want to try that technique one day, but I eat the cashews before I ever get to making cream out of them, lol.


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