This rasta pasta recipe is a total flavour bomb. Served with delicious vegetarian walnut balls and crisp bell peppers in a creamy curry coconut sauce, this vegan dish is hearty and will keep you full for hours!
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I’ve been making empty promises to open a Caribbean section on the blog for quite a while now. I’ve had every intention of doing it, but not being too knowledgeable about the cuisine of the region had me dragging my heels.
Well, I finally got my butt in gear and posted a recipe for vegan Cuban picadillo last week – my first Caribbean recipe, yay! And when I received a copy of Taymer Mason’s book Caribbean Vegan, a whole new world opened up to me.
Obviously Caribbean cuisine is so much more than Jamaican jerk and piña coladas, and Taymer’s book takes us on a vegan journey through Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and beyond. She explains the origins and influences that make up each dish and how the cuisine of the region is in constant evolution.
She offers veganized versions of traditional Caribbean dishes and also some familiar dishes with her own Caribbean twist. When I spied this rasta pasta recipe I thought that she’d totally made it up. It seemed to be such an odd combination of Italian, Indian and Jamaican food; but in fact if you google rasta pasta, you’ll see that it’s not only a real dish, but quite a popular one as well! Excuse my ignorance!
Don’t be intimated by the long list of ingredients, there are essentially three recipes here. First is the Jamaican Jerk Seasoning which, as you can see, is a wet seasoning rather than the dry jerk spice mix you might be more used to.
For many of the recipes in the book you’ll need to first prepare one or more of the seasoning recipes she gives in the first chapter. So it’ll take some time to fully stock your pantry in order to get the most out of it. Fortunately, they make an ample quantity and keep well in the fridge to use whenever you get a hankering for some island flavour. I’ve already got plans to use my leftover Jamaican jerk seasoning to marinade some tofu this weekend.
The second recipe is the walnut balls and let me tell you, these balls are EVERYTHING! Dare I say even better than my lentil meatballs? The revelation for me was the addition of dates. Just that slight bit of sweetness really puts them on another level. I may have to nick that idea the next time I make my lentil balls.
If you don’t have a lot of time to cook, you can skip the walnut balls and go straight for the pasta. The sauce is really easy with just onion, garlic, cilantro, allspice and curry simmered in coconut milk and tossed with sautéed bell peppers. Although it’s simple, this rasta pasta recipe is delicious and I’m looking forward to trying some of the other amazing recipes from Caribbean Vegan!
For the Jamaican jerk seasoning
- 25 to 30 green onions
- 1 thick 3½ x 1-inch (9 x 2.5cm) piece of fresh ginger
- 1 or 2 Scotch bonnet or habanero peppers (seeded if you prefer less spicy)
- 5 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- ½ cup (120 ml) canola oil or another neutral-flavored oil
- ½ cup (120 ml) soy sauce
- ½ cup (120 ml) tomato sauce, preferably Spanish-style*
- ⅓ cup (80 ml) fresh orange juice
- ⅓ cup (80 ml) distilled white vinegar
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons ground allspice
- 1½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or cassia
For the walnut balls
- 3 tablespoons olive or coconut oil, for sautéing
- 2 cups (220 g) chopped button mushrooms
- 2 small onions, sliced
- 1 cup walnut halves (100 g), soaked in 3 cups (720 ml) of water for at least 30 minutes
- 5 garlic cloves crushed
- 3 dates, pitted
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon flax meal, soaked in 2 tablespoons of hot water for 3 minutes
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup plus two tablespoons (34 g) oat flour
- ¼ cup (23 g) fine bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
- 2 teaspoons seasoning salt
- ½ cup (125 ml) neutral oil, for frying
For the sauce
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon Thai curry paste, any color, or Madras curry powder
- One 14-ounce (400 ml) can coconut milk
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- Pink or sea salt, to taste
For the rasta pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil, for sautéing
- ½ red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- ½ yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
- ½ green bell pepper, thinly sliced
- One 1-pound (454g) package linguini, cooked al dente according to package directions
For the Jamaican jerk seasoning
- Put the green onions, ginger, Scotch bonnets, garlic, and thyme in a food processor and process for 30 seconds. Add the oil, soy sauce, tomato sauce, orange juice, vinegar, lime juice, brown sugar, salt, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon and process until medium smooth.
- Transfer to a clean jar, seal, and refrigerate. This seasoning blend will keep for as long as 1 year in the fridge.
For the rasta pasta
- To make the walnut balls, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and onions and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to a food processor. Add the drained walnuts, garlic, dates, nutritional yeast, liquid aminos, thyme, flax meal mixed with hot water, curry powder, smoked paprika, and black pepper. Pulse until the nuts have been chopped fine but you still have texture.
- Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and add the oat flour, bread crumbs, jerk seasoning, and seasoning salt. Form the mixture into twenty 1.5-inch (3.8 cm) balls.
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚C) and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
- Heat the neutral oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the walnut balls, until a thin brown crust is formed, 5 minutes.
- Transfer the balls to the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until the form an outer brown crust.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot heat. Add the curry and heat through, about 1 minute. Add the coconut milk, onion, garlic, soy sauce, cilantro, allspice, sugar, and onion powder and stir to combine. Taste and adjust for salt. Bring to a boil and stir until the mixture is fairly creamy.
- To finish the pasta, heat olive oil in a wok over high heat. Sauté the bell peppers until slightly tender, about 2 minutes. Add the pasta and heat through, tossing to combine, about 4 minutes. Add the sauce, to taste, and top with the walnut balls.
- To serve, layer the balls over pasta and top off with sauce.
Notes: *For the best flavor, use a Spanish-style tomato sauce. I like Goya brand. Spanish-style tomato sauce is slightly more acidic than regular tomato sauce, and also contains different spices.
The color of jerk seasoning ranges from a rich reddish brown to almost dark brown. Jerk seasoning can be cured outside in the sun after bottling. To cure, place seasoning in a clear sterile jar, seal, and leave outside in the sun for three days.
Recipe from Caribbean Vegan: Meat-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free, Authentic Island Cuisine for Every Occasion, Expanded Second Edition © Taymer Mason, 2016. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. theexperimentpublishing.com