When Chadwiko and I first moved in together, I was still learning to cook. Fortunately for me, he was easily impressed. My go-to ‘impressive’ (but in hindsight, not really) dish was spinach and ricotta ravioli with salsa rossa. The salsa rossa was homemade, but the ravioli came courtesy of the good people at whatever-brand-was-on-special-at-the-supermarket-that-day. When I first went vegan, the realisation that convenient, ten-minute ravioli was a thing of the past was probably the hardest thing to deal with. I’ve since learned to make the stuff myself and while it still takes a while, I’m getting better. But practice makes perfect, right? So what better time to get in some more practice than VeganMoFo? Luckily, I had just the outfit for it.
(Side note: it poured with rain about five minutes after I finished watering my strawberries. Thanks, Canberra.)
I originally bought this dress because the flowers on it reminded me of Super Mario flowers, and I appreciated the novelty. Given the national origin of the eponymous Mario brothers, I had to make Italian food!
I used the fresh pasta recipe from Bryanna Clark Grogan’s Nonna’s Italian Kitchen, and stuffed the ravioli with blanched baby spinach and two homemade cheeses (macadamia ricotta and hard gruyere) from my current obsession, Miyoko Schinner’s Artisan Vegan Cheese.
I decided to revisit my old salsa rossa recipe, and it went perfectly with the ravioli- light and fresh-tasting, to let the pasta take centre stage. The salsa rossa is nothing fancy, just pureed roasted capsicum and tomatoes, garlic, rosemary and white wine. It’s nice to have an easy accompaniment to a pretty labour-intensive dish like ravioli!
I had a few issues with some of the pasta splitting open, most likely because I rolled the first few sheets too thin. I guess I’m still working on my technique. But those that made it through the arduous process were creamy, delicious and totally worth the wait.
Miyoko’s cheese recipes really need to be tasted to be believed. The ricotta was light and clean-tasting in the ravioli, without needing all the seasoning that vegan ricottas often do, while the gruyere lent a sharp, rich and authentically cheesy bite. I’ve dived right into this book since my copy arrived a few weeks ago, so I thought I would share a couple of photos of my favourite cheeses so far.
These are sharp cheddar, hard gruyere and air-dried gouda. I kept my old cheese board and knives around in the hopes that I would one day have fancy vegan cheeses to use them with. That day is definitely here!
Aged cheddar cheeses were always my favourite before I went vegan- the older and smellier, the better! So naturally, the sharp cheddar was the first recipe I tried. I thought this tasted great straight away, but that’s nothing compared to how it ages. I divided the recipe into two moulds, allowing myself one to eat straight away but promising myself that I would give the other one a few months to get to its best. I finished the first round of cheese today, and it was noticeably sharper and tastier with each day that went by. I can’t wait to dig into the other half of the batch (in due time, of course)!
The gruyere is super rich, and was my favourite cheese when I tried it straight from the blender. I made this with the intention of revisiting a gruyere and mustard scone recipe that I used to make… but I ate the cheese before that could happen. This cheese is smooth and creamy, and the perfect thing for sauces and pasta recipes. I’ll be making another batch soon to actually use it in things, if I can show the restraint for that.
This air-dried gouda has been my favourite cheese so far. This one requires some patience- it’s a week between starting the cheese and getting to try your first bite! But the wait is worth it. The culturing and air-drying processes make this super complex and, in my opinion, tastier than the real thing. This recipe makes me want to have a fancy cheese and wine night!
Artisan Vegan Cheese is probably the perfect book for food-nerd vegans. I can’t wait to get stuck further into it (I think the pub cheddar is next, and maybe the meltable mozzarella), and I’m loving seeing others take on the challenge of at-home vegan cheese-making. For any US-based VeganMoFo-ers who don’t yet have a copy, Kittee is hosting a giveaway of the book over at VeganMoFo HQ. I really can’t recommend it enough. So… why are you still here? Get over there and enter!