The apple of your eye is a vegan and she’s coming over to your house for dinner. The problem for you is that all of your romantic meals feature some sort of seared flesh or fermented dairy product. All non-starters for your guest who grazes exclusively on the bounty of plants.
But you’re hopelessly smitten. So how do you make something sexy and vegan if all you know when wooing a woman is how to make smoked bacon wrapped scallops and rich creamy alfredo sauce?
My approach to this three-course dinner was to not think of a menu with deep holes, but to put front stage all the mid-summer seductive vegetables that are stealing the show right now such as zucchinis, eggplants, tomatoes. Anything fresh and in season requires very little else to make a dinner sing.
Mid-Summer Vegetable “Gravy” with Casarecce Pasta
This is your tribute to the peak summer. It might be hot as hell, but markets are doing a brisk trade with all the beautiful freshly picked zucchinis, heirloom tomatoes, bell peppers and of course eggplant. This is a mind numbingly easy dish to execute and celebrates the garden. Your vegan friend will appreciate that gesture.
You are essentially making a herb infused stew, topped with fresh sage and seasoning. Serve it on top of a sauce-friendly durum wheat pasta called Casarecce. This tubular macaroni sops up the sugary and salty juices of your vegetables without being too starch-heavy.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
1 yellow zucchini
1 green zucchini
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 large fresh tomato
2 small Japanese eggplants
3 clove of garlic
1 sprig of fresh thyme
6 leafs of fresh sage
Fresh ground pepper
2 cups casarecce pasta
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Prep: 10 minutes
1) Cube and de-pithe all peppers
2) Slice zucchinis into ¼ inch coins
3) Slice tomato in quarters
4) Slice eggplants in ½ inch coins
5) Clean garlic leave whole
6) Chop sage and leave a few leaves to garnish
Cook: 25-30 minutes
1) Drop all ingredients into a large pot.
2) Add olive oil, sprig of thyme, salt and ground pepper.
3) At low-medium heat let simmer. Vegetables should stew to tender, but not become mushy.
4) Turn off heat and let vegetables sit in covered pot to rest.
5) Salt pasta water and bring to boil.
6) Add pasta to cook for 9-10 minutes. Pasta is done when it’s slightly al dente.
Plate pasta and ladle gravy on top. Garnish with more fresh sage, ground pepper and a pinch of kosher or sea salt.
Read more from Ben at BK + MTL Kitchens.
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Top image via Veer; food images courtesy of Ben Pomeroy