There is a very definitive line between vegans and vegetarians.
I was working at my restaurant when the phone rang. There was this sweet older lady on the other line staying at one of Bellefonte’s bed-and-breakfasts and wanted to know what sort of vegetarian options we had to offer. As I began talking to her about what we had on the menu, she chimed in and said, “I’m sorry, I should have said I am vegan, as well. I cannot have any dairy.”
More and more people are asking for vegetarian and vegan dishes, and I was in a bit of a panic. I'm a girl who uses butter as her secret weapon in the kitchen.
While vegetarians do not eat any type fish, meat or poultry, vegans also do not use or consume any other animal products or byproducts, including eggs, dairy products and sometimes honey. People become vegans and vegetarians for various reasons, including their health, the environment and the ethical treatment of animals.
I decided it would be a good idea to push my culinary envelope and come up with a vegan recipes. This one is specially suited for fall.
VEGAN PUMPKIN PENNE
Start to finish: 60 minutes
1/2 small sugar pie pumpkin or 1 heaping cup of smashed pumpkin
1/2 yellow onion, sliced into wedges
2 garlic cloves
Olive oil, for drizzling
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews, soaked, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound uncooked brown rice penne pasta
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
Place the pumpkin, onion wedges and garlic cloves on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn the pumpkin cut-side down and pierce a few holes in the skin with a fork to allow steam to escape. Cover and bake until the onion is soft and translucent and the pumpkin flesh is very tender, about 35 to 45 minutes.
Pour the vegetable broth into a blender. Remove the skin and add the pumpkin to the blender along with the onion, peeled garlic, cashews and a few generous pinches of salt and pepper. Blend until creamy. Add the olive oil and blend again. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.
Prepare the pasta according to the instructions on the package. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water to use as a sauce binder.
Drain the pasta and return it to the hot pot. Stir in half the sauce from the blender, adding more as needed to coat the pasta. Add the reserved pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, to thin the sauce and make it creamy. Add the remaining sauce. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve hot.
The reserved pasta water and the creaminess of the pumpkin, not to mention the buttery taste of the cashews, means you won't be missing the butter. You won’t be missing meat, either, with this hearty meal.