BONUS POST! Years ago when I was eating vegetarian I decided to try a dish at the Cheesecake Factory called “Pasta Da Vinci”. It’s one of my cousin Katy’s favorite dishes there and I thought I would see if I liked it too. It looked like something I would like and I ordered it without the chicken.
Well let’s just say this is probably the best pasta dish I’ve ever had at a restaurant. It’s one of those dishes that’s so huge you say you are going to take half home, but you keep taking one more bite and one more bite until you don’t have enough for a second meal. SO GOOD! I was naive though, and tried to ignore the calories and the possibility of chicken or beef stock/broth in the dish. The taste was SO GOOD.
During last year’s MOFO I told myself I would make an effort to veganize this dish. I looked it up, and found other people’s recreation of the recipe, but no official recipe of course. It looked difficult, and I was busy last year so this idea got put on the back burner. I honestly forgot about it until this year and decided it had to happen!
I found a recipe on BigOven that didn’t look too difficult. You can see it here if you are interested, but be warned, it’s not even close to being vegan. I’ll make a long story short, and just say that a lot of research went into this dish and I finally came up with this:
- 1 small red onion diced
- 1 clove of garlic crushed
- 5 oz of sliced shiitake mushrooms
- 1/2 box of penne pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup cashew cream
- 1/4 cup cashew sour cream
- 1/2 cup Marsala cooking wine
I’ve never made a cashew cream substitute for heavy cream, or cashew sour cream. I originally was going to go with a tofu based cream, but decided that cashews would probably have a better flavor for this dish. I forgot to soak the cashews overnight, so I soaked them first thing this morning and all day (12 hours) and the creams were really easy to throw together.
Also, I had never cooked with Marsala cooking wine. The recipe calls for Madeira, but I went with what I could find in the grocery store. I wanted this to taste fancy, but I wasn’t interested in paying for it to taste fancy. You can find this in the same section as the olive oils in the grocery store. I bought the Holland House brand because it’s darker in color and I assumed would be closer to what I was going for with this sauce.
And now for the directions:
- Cook pasta according to directions or your preference, drain, set aside.
- Caramelize the onions over medium heat in a tablespoon of oil in a skillet.
- When onions have browned add the garlic and mushrooms. Add more oil if needed.
- Saute until the mushrooms are soft and have released their juices.
- Remove mixture from skillet and set aside (I used the pot I cooked the pasta in).
- Add the cooking wine and cook over medium heat until it reduces by 2/3 and the alcohol smell is gone.
- Lower heat- wait until wine is no longer boiling to add the cashew cream and cashew sour cream.
- Stir until mixed thoroughly then add the mushroom mixture back in.
- Toss in cooked pasta and mix to coat with sauce.
Here is the final product! It doesn’t have the same color as the original dish, but it sure does have a similar flavor! Even without all the dairy cream. I’m curious as to what gives their dish the reddish color. Even though it looks different, I am VERY happy with the final product. I think my eyes bugged out of my head when I tasted it and I sad something lame like I THINK I FREAKING GOT IT! 🙂
In total this dish took only a half an hour to make. I have been getting faster in the kitchen and learning how to multitask, but even so this dish really is quite simple and easy to throw together. I have a feeling I’ll be adding it to my recipe list for things to make for fancy get togethers!
Next time I make this I think I’m going to increase the size of the red onion I use. The onion really adds that distinct flavor to this dish. Delicious! I might also try to find some Madeira cooking wine and see if that changes the flavor or color of the dish any. I’d like to figure out what makes their dish the color it is.
I’m so glad I was able to throw this together and create a new recipe of my own. It was a lot of fun! 🙂
Have you tried to recreate a restaurant favorite? How did it come out?
Until next time!