Friday, March 19, 2010

Good and Quick: Penne with Sun-Dried Tomato-Mint Pesto

Aaah...happy Friday. The weather has been glorious in NY, work wasn't too terrible, and I got an awesome package in the mail today (more on that below). And I also tried something completely new, which I now will surely use obsessively: mint in pasta.

I'm sure it's not new to a lot of people, but I don't think I've ever had mint in pasta before, basil being my usual herb of choice. I had a bunch of leftover mint though from when I made the pineapple salsa recently, and I discovered this recipe in my Vegan Italiano cookbook by Donna Klein. It was super easy and you can pretty much make it in the time it takes for the pasta to boil.

All you do is combine the following in a food processor: 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil but drained), 1/4 cup walnuts, 1/4 cup mint leaves, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 2 Tbsp. tomato paste, 2 minced cloves of garlic, 1 tsp. coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Process everything until it makes a fairly smooth paste, then toss with warm pasta.

For something so easy to make, this was packed with flavor and really delicious. There is a beautiful alchemy that happens when the mint, tomatoes, and garlic combine. The mint totally transforms into something more complex with an almost licorice flavor (but in a good way, because I say that as someone who hates licorice!). This mint pesto was like an epiphany for me. How have I been missing out on this?!

As if that weren't enough to elate my tastebuds, my order arrived today from Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe, the online emporium of all things vegan.  I had heard that they were selling a vegan version of Cadbury cream eggs, and with Easter around the corner I had to check it out. Sure enough, they have a whole page of Vegan Easter Candy, including these "Good Eggs" by Rescue Chocolate, a company that makes the world a better place by 1) selling chocolate, and 2) donating 100% of their net profits to animal rescue.

I bought a couple of these chocolate creme-filled eggs as well as one of the "Peanut Butter Pit Bull" bars - dark chocolate filled with peanut butter and toasted rice crispies, also from Rescue Chocolate. I bought it because the proceeds go to ending dog fighting and placing pit bulls in loving homes, I swear. It was definitely not because I have no will power in the face of a chocolate-peanut butter combo.

But why stop there? What Easter basket would be complete without these adorable vegan marshmallow Peepers & Skippers by Sweet & Sara? Who needs those flourescent yellow Peeps when you can have these little cuties?

And lastly, for the piece de resistance, I got some Vegan Twinkies by Dulce Vegan. OMG VEGAN TWINKIES.  I remember liking Twinkies as a kid, but I wasn't obsessed with them. These vegan ones on the other hand, these could fuel a serious obsession. The cake is like a very moist poundcake, heavenly fragrant of vanilla, and the creme filling is good, not too sweet, although a bit scant. I wouldn't oppose a bit more creme in there. But truly, these are Twinkies, perfected. They way they should have been made all along.

Now I just wish I had ordered something that stood a chance of lasting until Easter.


  1. Have you tried the chocolate vegan twinkies? They have them at Perelandra in Downtown Brooklyn, and--assuming they're sufficiently fresh--they're delicious!

  2. Chocolate vegan twinkies?! Haley, you are clearly a girl after my own heart. I will definitely look for these on my next trip to Perelandra. I've also been thinking about investing in one of those Twinkie pans, so I can make my own!