Wednesday, September 02, 2015

VeganMoFo Day2: Tomato Pesto Pasta ala my Mom

MoFo Day 2: "Recreate a meal from your childhood"

In case you didn't notice, I already devoted two years of MoFo to my "Noshtalgia" posts, about posts from my childhood... so I wanted to think of something I hadn't already written about. 

I went vegetarian when I was 14. I don't remember the exact moment, but I remember telling my mom that I was going to become a vegetarian, and that she was very cool about it. I think there may have been a few nights when I ended up eating Top Ramen when she made something non-veg for the family dinner... but there weren't many nights like that. What I really recall is that she took my choice seriously, and that with almost no fuss or hassle, our family began eating mostly vegetarian - and that I always had something nutritious and appealing to eat. That's pretty amazing. Thanks, Mom. 

Part of how I even knew I could choose to be a vegetarian was because my aunt Laura was a vegetarian. I really love my aunt Laura, and as long as I can remember, we have shared a total love for all creatures big or small. At some point, Laura discovered this book called "Quick Vegetarian Pleasures" (a James Beard award-winner!) and fell in love with it. So, she gave a copy to my mom and my other aunt. Right away, this became a family favorite, and there are a few dishes from this book that are still family classics.

Somewhere along the line, I got my own copy of this book, and I think it was one of my very first cookbooks. These days, most of the recipes aren't quite the way I'm used to eating (ie. "1/2 cup olive oil, 1 cup cheese," etc) ~ but for now I'm still hanging on to this book: partly for the sentimental value, and partly for those few recipes I still really love.

Pasta with Tomato Pesto

If you ever go to my parents' house for dinner, there is a good chance you will eat some of this Pasta with Tomato Pesto. It's one of my mom's favorite recipes, and also one that pretty much everyone is happy with. The original recipe calls for parmesan, so once I went vegan and other family members did too, my mom just started putting a little bowl of parm on the table for people who still eat cheese. 

Here is the recipe, in my veganized and vastly oil-reduced version:

Pasta with Tomato Pesto

1 lb pasta (and a little bit of the water from boiling the pasta) 
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
6 oz tomato paste
1/2-3/4 cup minced fresh basil
1 Tbsp oil (or knock yourself out and add the whole half cup she calls for!!)
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp salt

Get your water boiling and make the pasta. While that is going on, add all the remaining ingredients into a small bowl and mix them up with a fork until they're all integrated. After the pasta is done boiling, reserve a little bit of liquid from the pasta to thin out the pesto a little bit. Drain the pasta. Add the liquid to the pesto, until it is a consistency that you like. Mix the pesto into the pasta. In order to really enjoy this like my mom made it for you, be sure to also have a side salad AND a side veggie. 

my mom, the salad dressing wizard

I feel super lucky that my mom is such a great cook, and that I grew up eating so well. Along with our main dish, we pretty much always had salad and a side dish too. So, in recreating my mom's loving cooking, I was sure to make some broccoli and a side salad. I even made my best attempt at my mom's salad dressing. She is a salad dressing wizard!! Her dressing has olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, fresh garlic, mustard, salt and pepper, and a little dash of sweetener. Mmmm. 

Nowadays, my mom is a super-supporter of me as a vegan and she has managed to adapt to my vegan commitment with just as much grace as she did to my first declaration of independence at age 14. She's always telling people about my blog, she happily enjoys my vegan culinary creations, and - as some of you know - she even came with me to VidaVeganCon TWICE. So, she's pretty much awesome! 


  1. Anonymous9:25 AM

    I like the cover of that cookbook and your Mom as a salad wizard! Cool your family has been supportive and even joined in :)

  2. I went vegetarian at 14 too! :-) My parents weren't as supportive at first, but they are now.

  3. Aw, this post is wonderful! I have an Aunt Laura that I love too! She's not veg, and she's a very picky eater, but she always tries anything I make. Aunt Lauras are the best :)

  4. This looks great! My daughter walked by and said she wanted to try this asap!

  5. This sounds delicious. Love the look of those long noodles!

  6. Your mum is awesome, she was so lovely to me at VVC. :)
    Wow.... 1/2 cup of oil in the pesto? I die just thinking about that! Not even from any sort of calorie perspective, but just because that is so super oily. I have become a big fan of using pasta water to thin out my pesto recipes as well.

  7. Your mom sounds awesome! My mom had the same attitude with me back then - I think I was 12 :)

    Zsu @ Zsu's Vegan Pantry

  8. Awesome Mom! And I'd reduce that half cup of oil to 1Tbs too ;) Thanks for sharing the memory (and I still love how your dad had the Waffle Blow-Out, I remember that!)

  9. Great post! Thanks for sharing your story!

  10. Oh!!!!!! Yum! Can't go wrong with Pasta dishes!

  11. Anonymous8:12 AM

    I wasn't always a vegan, but I gravitated to vegetarian cookbooks a lot of the time. My first author was Jeanne Lemlin and then I found Anna Thomas' Vegetarian Epicure, Vols 1 and 2. Great reference works then and they still are....just veganize the recipes! Your Mom IS awesome and supportive! You are, too.

  12. Looks sooo delicious *_* definitely have to try this out!

  13. I love how you had broccoli with your pasta!!!! As if you could make pasta even better!

  14. Sounds easy and delish! Looking forward to trying this out.

  15. That dressing sounds so amazing. There's nothing that makes a salad like a great dressing! It can't be too heavy, and it can't be too light, otherwise I feel like I'm eating rabbit food. That dressing sounds like it has the perfect blend of everything!!


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