Creamy White Bean Pasta with Mushrooms & Sage

Creamy White Bean Pasta with Mushrooms & Sage

It’s Bonfire night! Since the 5th is a weekday this year, most of the fireworks displays took place over the weekend when it was, predictably, raining.

Bonfire night always seems to signal the real start of Autumn weather and indeed the temperature has certainly dropped these last couple of days. I’m back on porridge for breakfast and looking for warming meals to fill my tummy after coming in from the cold.

Creamy White Bean Pasta with Mushrooms & Sage

I don’t eat pasta all that often these days. I think maybe I had my fill of it when I was younger when plain pasta was one of the few meals fussy little me liked. I tend to think of it as boring and not particularly nutritious, but I’m realizing that it doesn’t have to be so. Add some beans, greens and wintry herbs and you’ve got a tasty, healthy, and satisfying meal.

I know this dish doesn’t look terribly inspiring but I promise it tastes a lot better than it looks. The creamy sauce is made from white beans and packs a punch of protein as well as bringing the herby mushrooms, pasta and kale together nicely.

Creamy White Bean Pasta with Mushrooms & Sage

Creamy White Bean Pasta with Mushrooms & Sage:

Pasta for 4 people (I like Dove’s Farm Brown Rice Pasta)

1/2T Olive Oil
1 Small Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic
1C White Beans
1T White Miso
1T Lemon Juice
1 1/2C Vegetable Broth
1/2T Olive Oil
250g/8oz Mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced thickly
2T Minced Fresh Sage
Salt & Pepper
A few large handfuls of kale or other greens, chopped

Make the white bean sauce first. Sauté onion over medium heat for 5 minutes in the olive oil, add the garlic and continue to cook for a further couple of minutes.

If you have an immersion blender add the beans, broth, miso and lemon juice to the pot and blend until smooth. Alternatively, transfer onion mixture to a blender, add the other ingredients and blend until smooth. Return to pot and heat gently until warmed through. Add more broth if you prefer a thinner sauce.

Cook pasta according to packet directions.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the remaining olive oil in a pan and sauté mushrooms along with the sage for approx 5 minutes, or until they’ve released their juices. Season with salt and pepper.

Steam greens.

Either add everything to the pasta and mix well to coat with the sauce or layer the separate components on individual plates.

Serves 4

Creamy White Bean Pasta with Mushrooms & Sage

I’ve got so much I want to share with you but am lacking the time to post it at the moment. I hope you’ll all bear with me!

What are your favourite pasta-dishes?

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Swiss Chard Lasagna with Golden Raisins + Pine Nuts

It’s five years this summer since I left school. The 5 year anniversary had me musing on school life…especially the food. I boarded and so all meals were eaten in my boarding house- breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I suppose the food wasn’t terrible, but for the picky eater that I used to be, meals weren’t exactly to my taste… I did have my favourites though, especially some of the puddings, and me and friends would check the notice board with anticipation for the new weekly menu to be posted!

If there was one thing the kitchen did well though it was the lasagna. It was a fairly frequent Saturday lunch and one I actually looked forward to! It wasn’t the sloppy, cheesy mess you might expect from school food but packed with layers of roasted vegetables, spinach ricotta and pasta with crispy edges. I wasn’t vegan at the time but have found a fairly good replica in a variation on the Veganomicon “Lasagna Marinara with Spinach”. Despite loving that dish I wanted to try a new baked pasta-something lighter in flavour and more summery.

I found myself with a beautiful bunch of swiss chard in my fridge and browsed through my saved recipes to find these two: Swiss Chard with Currants and Pine Nuts from the NYTimes Recipes for Health, and this Swiss Chard Gratin with Vegan Bechamel from Chocolate & Zucchini,  which together provided the inspiration for my lasagna.

Swiss Chard Lasagna with Golden Raisins + Pine Nuts (Vegan)

Lemony tofu and cashew ricotta, earthy dark greens, little sweet bursts of raisins and crunchy pine nuts, topped with caramelized onions for good measure.

This isn’t an average 30 minute dinner (like any lasagna) but maybe, every now and again, like me you enjoy lingering in the kitchen that bit longer to produce something more special .

Swiss Chard Lasagna with Golden Raisins + Pine Nuts (Vegan)

Swiss Chard Lasagna with Raisins and Pine Nuts:

Tofu Cashew Ricotta:

1/4C Cashews, Soaked and drained
1/4C Lemon juice
1T Olive oil
1T Nutritional yeast
2 Garlic cloves
1 1/2t Salt
1 400g/1lb pkg Firm tofu
2T Brown rice flour (Optional- to help set up ricotta)


2C Vegetable broth
Juice of 1 lemon
2T Arrowroot/Cornstarch


Large Bunch (approx 400g/1lb) Swiss Chard, thick stems cut off and julienned
1/4C Golden Raisins
1/4 Pine Nuts + 2T for topping (toasted if desired)

Caramelized Onions:

1 Large onion, thinly sliced
1/2T Olive Oil
1/2t Sugar

4-6 Lasagna Sheets

Make the ricotta first- using a food processor or blender blend all ingredients until smooth. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until ready to assemble lasagna.

Boil a pan of water and add julienned swiss chard. When the water comes back to the boil, drain and rinse in cold water to retain bright green colour. Stir through raisins and pine nuts. Set aside.

Whisk sauce ingredients together in a pot and then warm over medium heat until sauce thickens slightly, approx 10 minutes.

Par-boil lasagna sheets- Lay sheets in a large dish and pour boiling water over, then leave for two minutes to soften. Remove and set aside.

Preheat oven to 180C/350F

Lightly oil or line a large oven-proof dish with foil. Start layering up your ingredients. Start with 1/3 of the chard mixture, then 1/3 of the sauce, then a layer of pasta sheets, then 1/3 ricotta. Repeat until mixture is used up. Cover the dish with foil and place in oven to cook for approx 40minutes.

While it is cooking, heat olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat and add onion and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to low and cook gently, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes. Sprinkle over sugar and continue to cook for another 10-15minutes until onion is soft and caramelized.

When lasagna has finished cooking remove from oven and leave to firm up for at least 10 minutes. When ready to serve remove foil and top lasagna with caramelized onions and remaining pine nuts.

Serves 4

Swiss Chard Lasagna with Golden Raisins + Pine Nuts (Vegan)

What was your school food like? Any dishes you remember fondly?!

Tempeh Pasta alla Carbonara

Pasta alla carbonara, the classic Italian dish, typically combines spaghetti with fried pancetta or bacon and a sauce made with eggs, cheese and cream. Decidedly non-vegan fare, but here of course done vegan-style!

Nuts show their magic once again in this velvety, animal-product free sauce (with tahini and cashew butter), and salty, crispy tempeh stands in brilliantly for the pancetta.

Ricki Heller is to thank for this recipe. Ricki writes the blog Diet, Dessert and Dogs, home to a phenomenal number of fantastic vegan kitchen creations-“sugar-free, gluten-free, allergy-friendly”.

I’ve made a lot of her recipes:  Grain-free coconut flour biscuits, Edamame seaweed saladLemony baked cheesecake, Warm chickpea + artichoke salad, Chocolate almond mousse, Fruity cabbage salad, Almond + curry sauce, Quinoa chickpea olive + prune tagine, Carob + date pancakes….just to name a few, and I can’t name any failures!

Tempeh Pasta Carbonara, close-up

My Granny was eating with us the evening I made this pasta and knowing that she doesn’t usually eat a lot I just gave her a small amount, but she was nabbing bits of the tempeh bacon from the serving dish and said how much she enjoyed it. I’ll make a vegan out of her yet…!

Tempeh Pasta Carbonara

There are a few components to the recipe but it really doesn’t take that long to come together so don’t be put off by the ingredients list and instructions.

Tempeh Pasta Carbonara

(Minimally adapted from Diet, Dessert, and Dogs)

For the Tempeh Bacon:

1/2 8oz/225g pkg Tempeh, very thinly sliced and diced into bite-size pieces.
1 1/2 T Tamari
1T Lemon juice
1/8 t Liquid smoke OR 1/4t smoked paprika
1 Clove garlic, minced
1T Olive oil
3-4 Drops liquid stevia OR 2-3t Agave/Maple syrup
1/4C + 1 T Water

For the Sauce:

1T Cashew butter
1/2T White miso
1/2T Tahini
1/8t Dijon mustard
1/8t Turmeric
Salt + Pepper
1/2C Almond milk, unsweetened
1/2C Vegetable broth
1T Arrowroot + 2-3T Hot Water

1/2C Green peas (fresh or frozen)

Enough Pasta for 2-3, any variety (I did 150g/1 heaping cup Brown Rice Fusilli which was enough for 3 modest servings)

1-2T Chopped Parsley

Prepare the tempeh bacon: Slice tempeh up, mix remaining ingredients in a large frying pan over medium heat and add tempeh.

Let simmer gently for approx 5 minutes until sauce begins to evaporate. Flip pieces over carefully and leave to brown for another 5 minutes. Flip tempeh one more time and cook the other side until brown and crispy. Turn off heat and set pan aside.

Prepare the pasta according to package instructions, in last couple of minutes of cooking time add your peas so they cook through. Drain, reserving 1/4 C pasta water.

While pasta is cooking prepare sauce:

In a medium pan over low heat whisk together ingredients on list up to and including salt and pepper. Gradually add milk and broth, whisking all the while to avoid lumps and produce a smooth sauce.

In a small bowl dissolve the arrowroot in the hot water. Gradually add this mixture to the sauce pan, keep whisking as it will thicken up pretty quickly. Continue to cook for a further minute until thick and creamy.

Add pasta, peas and tempeh pieces to the sauce pot, stir sauce through, cover and warm through for approx 5 minutes. If it looks a little dry add the reserved pasta water and continue to heat until warm and everything is nicely coated in the sauce.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Serves 2-3

Have you veganized any seemingly very un-vegan recipes?

What are your favourite Ricki recipes? If you’re unfamiliar with Diet, Dessert, and Dogs get over there now!

Orzo, Spinach + Almond feta bake

The pantry decimation challenge is going well, another package finished! This time it was a lonely half cup of ground almonds (I think this is known as ‘almond flour’ outside the UK, i.e. blanched  very finely ground almonds).

This time Deb at maple spice came to the rescue with her beautiful Greek-style Orzo Bake.


This was so delicious and incredibly easy to put together. Just a matter of cooking up your pasta and spinach and combining with some fresh herbs- I went for basil as that’s what I had on hand- and the quick almond feta which is simply: blended ground almonds, lemon juice, garlic, salt, water + a little olive oil, then baking it in the oven for 30mins.

As I’m just cooking for me I divided the recipe by 3 (the amount of almonds I had left was exactly right!), and it gave me two small-ish but filling portions.

As Deb says, the recipe is very adaptable, you can mix up the herbs and add other veggies. I prefer to cook with whole grains and whole wheat orzo is quite hard to find over here so I’m thinking I might try it with brown rice next time and also add more basil and some chopped sun-dried tomatoes too.


As this was so quick I mixed up Deb’s mustard-dill vinaigrette for a little side salad too. Nice and tangy, just how I like it.

Do pop over to maple spice and take a look, there’s a whole host of fab recipes over there.

Hope you’re having a lovely weekend and the sun is shining in your part of the world!