Meet Alex Caspero
Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.
Linguine with Shiitake Wine Sauce! You can’t believe this pasta is vegan, super creamy with a trick to making glossy, delicious pasta.
Fancy-ish pasta like this is date night pasta. At least, that’s how it works in my house. With Valentine’s Day being around the corner, I’m reminiscing on the countless date-night-in evenings that BL and I have shared over the past (almost) decade. 99% of the time, they involve pasta.
It’s funny to look back on our relationship, from the initial dating phase, to love, to marriage. We spent the weekend in Kansas City with BL’s best man and his new girlfriend and naturally, the conversation turned into how we met.
I knew I was going to marry BL the moment I met him. Which, now that we are doesn’t seem quite as creepy as when I announced it to my mom 10 minutes after our first get-together. I’m fairly certain that this fits squarely into the lust category but since it all worked out for the better, I’m calling it love at first sight.
BL was my tour-guide on the first day of grad-school and I was smitten within seconds. Naturally, he had a girlfriend at the time, which actually worked out for the better. We become close friends over the course of the year and when they were over, we were ready to take our relationship to the next level.
He jokes that I eventually wore him down into dating me, but I’m fairly certain it was the pasta. Early into our dating history, I arranged for a nice dinner in. I was still a broke graduate student, so it seemed like a big deal at the time to offer appetizers, wineand dessert. Of course, I opted for homemade pasta as the main course. Go big or go home. Thankfully, pasta is the way to BL’s heart.
Years later and I’m still opting for a monthly date-night in. Pasta is almost always at the center of the table with good reason. It’s a nice option for two vegetarians and it’s the perfect meal to linger over, especially now that I can afford a decent bottle of red.
This shiitake pasta will almost certainly be on our table tomorrow night and I’m thinking it should be on yours as well. While any mushroom variety will work, I love the delicate, almost buttery flavor that shiitake mushrooms give.
I’ve been finding them for a fairly good price, $8.99 a pound, but if they are quite costly, then cut some of the mushrooms down with regular button or baby bellas.
Either way, I’m letting you in on a secret to creating the best tasting pasta at home, sans fresh or homemade noodles. I even created a video below to show you how it’s done. The trick is cooking the pasta very al dente. If the package calls for 9-10 minutes of cooking time, I’ll let it cook for 5-6.
Then, add the under-cooked pasta to the already finished sauce with a spoonful of pasta water. Regular water won’t work here as the starches from the cooking water help finish the cooking process and let the sauce cling to the noodles. Toss, toss and toss. Once the water is mostly absorbed, add in another spoonful. Keep tossing, repeating this process for another few minutes until the sauce has thickened and the noodles are perfectly al dente.
To finish the dish, add in a tablespoon of butter (or vegan butter) and toss the whole thing together one last time. This gives the pasta a silky finish and adds body to the sauce. Sprinkle in parsley and serve.
For a complete date-night dinner, I recommend ending the meal with either my red-wine poached pears or chocolate-cherry mousse cups. Either way, Happy Valentine’s Day to you and whomever has your heart.Print
Linguine in Shiitake Wine Sauce! You can’t believe this pasta is vegan, super creamy with a trick to making glossy, delicious pasta.