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Challenge 1 - Vegetarian Pasta Dishes
Posted by Lori Ross - Viewed 26232 times

Dear Lori,

I'd love 5 recipes for vegetarian pasta dishes with no olives or peppers.  Sauce/toppings can have cheese, cream, milk, sustainably caught seafood (no farmed anything), chicken stock, or beef stock--trying to cut down on meat but not all the way there yet.  All hot (not pasta salads). 

Kathy Dismukes
Alexandria, VA



5 Vegetarian Pasta Dishes

Dear Kathy,

I love pasta and vegetables, so I relished your challenge.  In fact, the day I received it, I was taking our Fleming 55 Motor Yacht back to Maryland from Florida and I made a delicious spaghetti carbonara with spinach!  Below are my five fave vegetarian pastas.  If you wish, you may add sustainably caught seafood or fish to any of these.  All the pasta recipes serve 4 people. They are:

Pasta with Spinach Carbonara

Pasta with Salsa Crudo (Uncooked Tomato Sauce)

Pasta With Browned Mushroom Sauce

Cabbage And Noodles

Pasta With Pesto, Lemon And Green Vegetables


Lori Ross


1) Pasta with Spinach Carbonara

Authentic carbonara never uses cream but always uses bacon.  I have successfully made this dish without bacon many times, so while not authentic, it is delicious (more eggy and cheesy than smoky). The key to this dish is to keep tossing cooked pasta with egg and cheese mixture until it creates a creamy sauce (without cream)! Lovely with steamed shrimp added

1 lb pasta
1 cups freshly grated Parmesan
4 eggs
10 ounce bag fresh baby spinach (or more if you love spinach)
Freshly ground Black Pepper and salt to taste

Mix cheese, eggs, and toss until thoroughly mixed, then place in your pasta serving bowl and put aside.  Open bag of spinach and place in colander.  When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it in the colander right on top of the fresh spinach (this quickly wilts the spinach). Immediately toss the pasta and spinach into the serving bowl with egg mixture and start tossing.  Toss at least 12 times to ensure the hot pasta cooks the egg mixture evenly.  Each strand of pasta should be lightly coated and little liquid should remain at the bottom of bowl.  If the pasta seems too dry, add a little water (a couple tablespoons at a time) and keep tossing.  If the pasta seems a little wet, add a little more cheese.  Serve immediately adding salt and pepper to taste.

If you have leftovers, they heat up beautifully in the microwave (just add a little water if too thick).  Never toss pasta and raw eggs over heat or in hot pan because the eggs with curdle and the dish will look like scrambled eggs with pasta. 


2)  Pasta with Salsa Crudo (Uncooked Tomato Sauce)

I love this sauce when tomatoes and basil are in season. Make it ahead of time (I’ve even let it sit overnight in the refrigerator and then brought it to room temperature).  Because it is room temperature, the pasta heats the sauce and melts the cheese and it tastes fresh and summery!  You can add steamed shrimp, crab, cooked lobster, clams, fish or scallops to make it a heartier dish.  I also like adding capers, black olives and crushed red pepper to spice it up!

3 cloves of garlic minced
3 cups tomatoes (fresh or canned) unpeeled, unseeded, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2-3 tbsp chopped fresh herbs such as: basil, marjoram, oregano, parsley, cilantro, thyme, rosemary, lemon balm)
3 to 4 tbsp fruity extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Optional ingredients: 1 teaspoon capers, 2-3 anchovies chopped
Mix sauce ingredients and let mixture sit several hours at room temperature

1 lb fusilli, penne, linguine or spaghetti
6 quarts boiling salted water
1/2 to 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta, drain and toss sauce with pasta and cheese. Serve immediately if you want warm pasta.  Italians eat this dish room temperature. 

3)  Pasta With Browned Mushroom Sauce

I first tasted this pasta sitting on the patio of an Italian restaurant at Tyson’s Corner, Virginia.  It was warming and filling, perfect for a fall day.  I have recreated it as closely as possible.

1 lb pasta (pappardelle or other wide noodles are nice)
2 tbsp of olive oil or butter
1 lb fresh mushrooms (any kind or mixed)
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 cups beef stock (low salt or regular) (Kathy said this was ok to have in her recipes)
1 small tomato chopped
3 tbsp sherry (or Marsala or port if you don’t have sherry)
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves or (1/4 teaspoon dried)
1 tbsp flour
Salt and pepper to taste –stock is very salty, so taste the sauce before you add salt
Grated Parmesan cheese to taste

Heat half the oil and butter in a large sauté pan.  Add garlic, onion and mushrooms cook for 2-3 minutes.  Lower heat to medium and add stock, thyme, pepper.  Mix in tomato and reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms are very tender. Sprinkle flour over the top, quickly stirring in. Lower heat and let simmer a further 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Toss with pasta, top with Parmesan. 

4)  Cabbage And Noodles

This is an easy, addictive, luscious pasta dish based on an Austrian classic dish.  It tastes far better than it sounds!

1 large yellow onion, peeled
1/2 head large cabbage, cored
6 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb egg or other noodles

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, thinly slice onion and set aside. Thinly slice cabbage and set aside.  Melt butter and oil together in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, 6–8 minutes. Add cabbage, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until cabbage begins to brown, 5–8 minutes.  Cook noodles in boiling water until just cooked through, 6–8 minutes. Drain noodles; add to skillet with cabbage, and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes more. Adjust seasonings. 

5)  Pasta With Pesto, Lemon And Green Vegetables

I love this dish because it takes pesto to another level.  The texture and flavor of green vegetables and lovely lemony bite transforms pesto pasta to a fresh summery dish!   Unless I plan ahead and make it at home, I usually carry a couple jars of pesto aboard and just enhance them in this recipe.

½ cup pesto (homemade* or store-bought)
2 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Extra olive oil, if necessary
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
2 cups bite-sized green vegetables, such as fresh asparagus, green beans, zucchini, fresh or frozen peas or artichokes
1 lb pasta

Add lemon zest, lemon juice and cheese to the pesto mixture and mix; taste and add more olive oil and salt and pepper, as desired.

Boil water and add pasta. Cook until al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions. A minute before the pasta is done, add the green vegetables to the boiling water. After a minute, drain the pasta and asparagus, reserving a few tablespoons of the cooking water. Return the pasta and asparagus to the pot and toss with reserved pesto. Serve topped with a few grinds of black pepper and additional grated Parmesan.

*Homemade Basil pesto: Most homemade pesto consists of basil, pine nuts, olive oil, salt, pepper and parmesan but you can use parsley, cilantro, arugula, spinach, kale or other flavorful green in place of basil and you can replace the pine nuts with walnuts, pecans, macadamia or cashew nuts with terrific results.  For ½ cup of pesto: Grind in a food processor: 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (or substitute almonds or walnuts); 3 medium cloves garlic, 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves (or other herbs or greens as indicated above). ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ grated Parmesan cheese and salt to taste.

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