London has finally sorta hit Summer, even on the not so warm days you're not actually freezing and when the suns out you could be anywhere in the world, so why not Naples? My recipe this week is inspired by Naples, an Italian city by the sea. Spaghetti alla Puttanesca literally translates to spaghetti in the style of a whore! To be honest I'm here for whorey spaghetti, especially this much improved vegan version. Puttanesca is traditionally made from tomatoes, black olives, capers, garlic, chilli and anchovies. But I ditched the anchovies in favour of chickpeas and seaweed and the result was sensuous (I can see why this pasta dish get it's name!).
This meal was inspired by Grandma, I wanted to cook her a special meal and know she loves a bit of fish. I also used to love this pasta dish and decided it was the perfect way to make my Grandma a meal that would suit her tastes and was vegan. After arranging to cook for Grandma last week, I received a message off my cousin, asking if I would like to meet her at my Grandmas to hang out. I replied telling her I had already agreed to be there and cook her a special meal. Before I knew it was a full family affair and I was cooking for 6 rather than 2, but honestly what could be better?! I don't get to see or spend time with my cousins all that often, and they're actually some of the best people, so it was a delight to not only be able to see them but cook for them too. My grandma and her grandchildren all loved the spaghetti, there were no regrets that it wasn't real fish, or topped with real Parmesan, just empty plates, full stomachs and happy faces.
From left to right: Gabby (my cousin leaf's girlfriend), Alice (my sister), Leaf (my cousin), Angela (my grandma), Me, Cedar (my cousin).
I love the spicy kick to this dish, I used a mixture of fresh chilli and dried chilli flakes as I like the heat this gives, dried chilli has that real blow your mouth of heat, so I use it sparingly, while fresh chilli have more flavour. It's important that the heat is there in this dish but it shouldn't be the overriding flavour, the real taste should be reminiscent of a Mediterranean sea, heat and salt and freshness!
I topped my dish with parsley and pecan Parmesan, a top favourite of mine. I use a ratio of 1:1 crushed pecans and nutritional yeast. This is my absolute fav way to top pasta currently, but just nutritional yeast on it's own is plenty good enough.
I think over the coming weeks blog posts are going to be taking a back seat. Don't worry I'm not going anywhere, I'm just currently working on a project with my good friend Divya, and I want to make it perfect for y'all. I'm still going to try and be producing around a blog post a week, but if I fall behind just know there's a reason and I haven't eaten vegan food to oblivion or been abducted by aliens (if only!). I'm really excited to announce what me and Divya are working on, I'm kinda sad I can't just ruin a surprise of my own making, but it will be worth the wait!
Anyway until the big reveal (oh god have I well over hyped this now?!) sit back with a glass of vegan wine and a plate of Naples and enjoy that god damn sunshine!
1 500g can of chickpeas
1 nori sheet
1/2 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
1/2 fresh red chilli
1/2 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
4 large garlic cloves
3 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons caper water
50g black olives (destoned and halved)
2 500g cans of passatta
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
400g spaghetti (gluten free if needed)
For the Pecan Parmesan
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
30g Parsley (finely chopped)
1) Place the nori sheet on a dry pan over a low heat, and toast the nori sheet on both sides, until brown and crinkled.
2) Place the nori sheet and chickpeas into a food processor and blend until finely chopped.
3) Finely dice the chilli and garlic and fry in a large saucepan until soft.
4) Add the chickpea and nori mix, olives, and capers and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the caper water, passatta, tomato paste and water and bring to the boil. Once boiling turn down the heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
5) Mean while place the pecans in a bowl and crush with a rolling pin. (You could also do this in a high powered blender, but I personally find the old fashioned way therapeutic!) Add the nutritional yeast and mix.
6) Cook the spaghetti to the packet instructions. Once cooked combine the spaghetti with the sauce, season to taste and serve with parsley and pecan Parmesan.