Vegan Bagna Càuda Pasta: A Piece of Cake #41
Welcome to the second vegan issue of APC! (Remember Picnic Beans? Remember summer?) While I will forever be a dairy and eggs boy at heart, it’s long been a goal of mine to develop more vegan recipes, both on the baking and savory side of things. So here’s my next step down the plant-based path: a quick, easy, and deeply savory weeknight pasta.
This recipe was inspired by a dish that Chef Michael Han served at our Rosemary’s Garden Party dinner back in September: charred Romano beans in a vegan bagna càuda. The beans were briny and nutty, and I couldn’t get enough of them. Neither could Andrew, who kept demand—I mean, who kept suggesting that I try and recreate the flavor at home.
Traditionally, bagna càuda is a dip made of olive oil, butter, a lot of garlic, and chopped anchovies. Served hot and kept hot. Like fondue, but fishy. My vegan version has a similarly short list of ingredients, and only one of them is a plant-based substitute product. Tahini provides body and nuttiness, miso adds salty umami, and the capers give it a perfectly briny note. If I hadn’t written the recipe myself, I’d swear there were tinned fish in there.
For the fat in this recipe, I used Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Stick. I like the way it melts, I like that it's readily available at most grocery stores, and I especially like the flavor. It’s used in both the pasta and the herby chili breadcrumbs.
A heads up on the breadcrumbs: not all panko is vegan! While writing this recipe I discovered that many brands contain powdered milk. Kikkoman brand is in fact vegan and also stocked at most grocery stores.
Those toasted bread crumbs keep well in an airtight container, so you can save them for the leftovers. And speaking of leftovers, this pasta is an easy re-heat. Just toss in a bit more Earth Balance to the cold pasta, warm it in a skillet on the stove, and the sauce will spring back to life.
Seeing as this bagna càuda was inspired by a non-pasta dish, the sauce is a quick flavor bomb you can use for all sorts of foods. It is great drizzled on roasted veggies, or as a sauce on a sandwich. If you thin it with a bit of olive oil, you could easily toss it into a hearty salad. And the absolute best thing about this sauce? It comes together in about the time it takes to boil your favorite pasta shape. That’s what makes this one a great work-from-home lunch. Andrew has thrown it together in between Zoom meetings more than once this month.