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Last New Year’s Eve was a quiet affair, and very lovely at that. We decided to stay home and invite friends for something simple, and I offered to do the cooking- a chance to entertain and nourish is something I usually jump on, particularly when I know they’ll appreciate even the smallest of gestures surrounding food. It’s always nice to feel that way. All the recipes I made were such a hit that I promised to share them, but I’m only now getting around to sharing them- sorry! Better late than never, righ?

So, my original plan was to make Sicilian style dishes since eating seafood is traditional on New Year’s Eve. That and maybe a calamari salad. A tuna pasta. Such great dishes, but it just wasn’t going to work. And that turned actually out for the best.

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I needed to make vegan food because one of our friends is strictly vegan. I was quite worried about cross-contamination of ingredients so I just decided that everything I made that night would be vegan.

Then, I panicked just a little. I thought about how difficult this might be since I am so accustomed to using dairy in my cooking, especially in pastas (except things with fish and seafood).

I thought it would be best to buy some vegan products for this meal so I intended to look into cashew butter, vegan dairy and anything else that might go with appetizers or pasta-making. Then I ran out of time to do so, but to be honest, the purist in me just doesn’t want to go near that processed stuff – and I certainly didn’t have time to figure out cashew butter making at home. I was a bit lost about all of those substitutes, and after being in the food industry and Halal industry for so long, I’ve learned my fair share about food science and what’s in our food, so I tend to be uber skeptical about everything processed. It takes a lot for me to buy something pre-made or “processed”.

After all of these conversations in my head, I decided to just go for traditional Italian dishes that don’t even have meat or dairy in them to begin with. What I didn’t realize is that there are more traditional dishes that are just naturally vegan than I can even count. All I needed was a little inspiration and memory-jogging, which I got from these two books:

Cooking from an Italian Garden

and Verdure (Vegetables). It’s not on Amazon but here’s a similar one.

Share Everyday Mediterranean by Yvonne Maffei

So, I made several things from whatever I already had in the fridge: Bruschetta with Roasted Peppers

Stuffed Zucchini (and Peppers)

Roasted Carrots with Cumin

Mushroom Pasta

Everything was vegan, and very easy to make. I’ll share the other recipes in later posts, but the pasta was the main course, so that’s the one I’d like to share now. Get yourself some fresh Spring mushrooms and make this over the weekend for lunch or dinner. It will be so satisfying, so tasty and so inspiring – and you don’t need to be vegan to try it and love it.

Vegan Mushroom Pasta

Note: It is best to time this dish so that the pasta is just about to finish cooking so that you can use some of the pasta water in the mushrooms; otherwise, simply finish cooking the pasta and drain most of the water, reserving about 1-2 cups of the pasta water for the dish. If cooking and reserving the pasta ahead of time, be sure to drizzle some olive oil on top to keep it from sticking.

Serves 4


1 pound egg noodle or Papardelle pasta, cooked al dente.

4 tablespoons good quality olive oil

1 pound Crimini mushrooms, sliced thinly

1/4 cup yellow onions, finely chopped

2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed

Sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground white pepper, to taste

1/2 bunch fresh flat Italian parsley, roughly chopped


Prepare the pasta or arrange for it to cook around the time you start cooking the mushrooms.

In a large saute pan, gently heat the olive oil. Add the mushrooms and cook until well-browned on one side and flip all of them over, making sure to cook out any water moisture created in the pan. Next, add the onions and cook until translucent. Add a little more olive oil if and when necessary. Add the garlic, salt, pepper.

Continue to saute the ingredients until well-blended and everything is nicely browned. Ladle about 1/4 cup pasta water into the pan and stir to combine. Add all of the drained noodles into the pan and combine everything well. If it is the consistency that you would like, don’t add any more pasta water; if not, add a little more until it reaches what you like.

And that’s it! We (non-vegans) were going to add some Parmesano or Pecorino cheese to the mix, but it didn’t need it at all. The mushrooms are so rich and meaty that the dish tastes and feels complete just as it is.

Buon Appetito!

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