Gourmet vegetarian chef, Neela Shukla, has turned her interests to refreshing meals using colourful pastas.

Quick Rigatoni Primavera

makes 6 large portions

  • 3/4 cup each carrots, asparagus, squash and zucchini, julienned
  • 3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped fennel
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped leek
  • 3 cups uncooked rigatoni pasta
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsely, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or water)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook rigatoni according to directions. Drain well. Pre-heat oven to 475 degrees F. Mix herbs, salt and pepper, garlic and oil or water with vegetables in a shallow baking pan. Roast vegetable mixture for 5-7 minutes or until brown. If dry, add 2 more tbsp water and mix. Remove from oven and toss with pasta. Serve immediately.

Note: A low-fat parmesan cheese or substitute could be sprinkled on top.

No Cheese Lasagna

Serves 6 – 8

  • 12 strips lasagna noodles
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp oil or 3 tbsp water
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 2 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano (1/2 tsp dried)
  • 2 pkgs frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 cup sliced muchrooms
  • 1 cup sliced zucchini
  • salt and pepper to taste

Saute 1/3 onion in oil or water for 1 minute or until translucent. Add 1/3 garlic and cook for 1 minute then add mushrooms and cook another 2 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft. Remove from pan and set aside. Put another 1/3 of the onion and 1/3 garlic in the same pan and cook for one minute. Add zuc-chini and parsley and cook for another minute. Remove from pan and set aside. Do the same with the remaining onion, garlic and spinach.

Heat tomato sauce in another pan and add basil and oregano. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Boil the noodles as per directions, drain well. Heat the oven to 375°F. In a rectangular baking dish, pour 3/4 cup of the tomato sauce and lay about 3 of the lasagna noodles to cover the bottom of the dish. Spread 1/2 the spinach on top. Arrange another 3 pieces of lasagna and spread the mushroom mixture on top. Add a bit of the sauce and arrange another 3 pieces of lasagna noodles on top. Next, spread the zucchini mixture and add the remaining spinach on top. Finish with the remaining lasagna noodles and pour the remaining sauce on top.

Bake for 40-50 minutes.

Note: 1/2 cup of low fat mozzarella cheese, grated, can be sprinkled on top of each vegetable layer. Alternatively, 1/4 cup of ground almonds mixed with 1/4 cup nutritional yeast may be used as a substitute.

Whole Wheat Pasta with Pine Nuts

Serves 6 – 8

  • 1 lb whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 cup finely chopped plum tomatoes
  • 1-1 1/2 cups (low fat) parmesan cheese or 1/2 cup ground almonds mixed with 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup pine nuts (optional)
  • 1 tsp canola or sunflower oil (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta in boiling water to which 1 tsp canola or sunflower oil has been added. Drain well. Place the pasta in a pan (over a burner that is warm but not on). Add all the ingredients and toss well. Serve immediately.

Spinach Tomato Sauce with Penne

Serves 4 – 6

  • 12-16 oz penne (pasta)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped finely or minced
  • 1 can (28 oz) tomatoes with liquid (or fresh tomatoes, if preferred)
  • 1-2 onions, chopped
  • 2-3 cups chopped spinach
  • 1/2-1 tsp cayenne or red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper to taste

Cook penne in boiling water for 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside. In a pan, steam saute onions and garlic in 2 tbsp water (and soya sauce or wine) for 1-2 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add cayenne, salt & pepper. Add chopped spinach and cook for 3-4 minutes over medium heat until spinach wilts. If too dry, add another tbsp of water. Add tomatoes and simmer for 8-12 minutes. Add pasta and toss. Serve immediately.

Note: 1/2 to 1 cup grated parmesan cheese (or 1/4 cup ground almonds mixed with 1/2 cup nutritional yeast) may be sprinkled on top just before serving. Whole wheat pasta may also be used.

Pasta & Vodka Sauce

Serves 4 – 6

  • 8 plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 – 1 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2-4 oz soy or rice milk, cream, whole or skim milk (optional)
  • 4-6 oz vodka
  • 4 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/2 – 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp water for steam sauteeing shallots
  • 12-16 oz linguini
  • cayenne, salt and pepper to taste
  • cilantro (fresh coriander) for garnish

Steam saute shallots for 1 minute or until glazed. Add chopped tomatoes and cook for 5-7 minutes. Add salt, pepper, cayenne, parsley and basil and cook for 5 minutes or until well mixed. Turn off burner. Add vodka, making a pool so that it floats. Using a long match stick, set pool aflame by lightly touching the vodka. Let the flame burn out. Place the mixture back on the burner and cook on low-medium heat for about 8 minutes (covered). Then add the soy, rice or cow’s milk and mix. Boil pasta according to directions and drain well.

Note: A combination of garlic and spring onions can be used instead of shallots.