Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Vegan Mofo #10 - Kim’s Peanut Pasta Salad with Fried Tempeh Bits...

Vegan Mofo #10 - Kim’s Peanut Pasta Salad with Fried Tempeh Bits

The Book - "Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook"
The Author - Kim Barnouin
The Recipe - Peanut Pasta Salad with Fried Tempeh Bits
Page # 127
Difficulty - Easy
Duration - Roughly 30 minutes, 20 minutes if you don’t use tempeh.

All right, I know, I know, I cooked something from Skinny Bitch. So what? Get over it! I know So many people, vegans, vegetarians and omni’s who hate the ladies of Skinny Bitch fame, hate the whole concept, hate the attitude, hate the books. I know, and I get it, but personally they’re not telling you anything you don’t already - or shouldn’t already know - they’re just telling it to you in a not so nice way. Big deal. So they swear and call the reader fat? So what? They’re just words, they don’t really hurt do they? And lets face it, if you are fat then you know you’re fat, and if you’re skinny then no worries right? That’s how I think of it anyway and I personally think the books are a riot. In the beginning I was just like the rest, wouldn’t even give the book the time of day. In fact when it first came out I mistakenly thought it was a ‘diet’ book, and ignored it, I didn’t even know it was about veganism. I read this book after I’d already gone vegan, and after I’d already read wonderful books like "Food Revolution" I read it because I try to read anything and everything that’s vegan, vegan support you know? Vegan solidarity yo! Trust me when I say I understand some people’s distaste, but the books are fact filled, and there are gems beneath the cliches. You certainly can’t deny that they got a shit load of attention when their first book was published, and anytime someone gets attention for promoting a healthful vegan diet, it’s gotta be a good thing right?

Originally I didn’t set out to buy this cook book. It just kind of happened. I was standing in the book store with a 40% off coupon burning a whole in my pocket, and the pictures in this book were just so beautiful. I love good food photography by the way, and really hate it when cook books either have no pictures or very poor quality ones. It was the pictures that first caught my attention but then I started reading the recipe titles and found myself intrigued. I also liked that the book included a lot of helpful tips about organics, and that it promoted a healthful vegan diet, full of whole foods and whole grains, with many alternatives to sugar. Admittedly I don’t use this book as much as I’d like to, but that has more to do with the fact that it uses a lot of meat substitutes, seitan, tempeh and tofu. Things I generally don’t eat. I have cooked a handful of things from this book though, and so far everything has been good. I particularly liked the apple cinnamon muffins and pancakes.

When I was flipping through this book at the bookstore, the Peanut Pasta Salad with Fried Tempeh Bits was the first recipe that really got my attention. I love pasta salad, I love Asian flavors, and I love peanuts, to have all three of these things together in the same recipe was kind of mind blowing. Growing up my mom made a really wicked pasta salad, and when I make pasta salad I use the same general recipe. It’s great. The dressing is an olive oil and vinegar base with Italian herbs like parsley, oregano, and basil mixed in with a few other things. It’s fantastic and always goes over well. Except the first time I made it for a party here people seemed a little skeptical. For some reason people here in the Midwest make pasta salad with a mayo dressing, which I find a bit confusing. See in Vancouver Macaroni salad is made with a mayo dressing, and Pasta salad is made with an oil and vinegar dressing. Here in Chicagoland it would seem that both macaroni salad and pasta salad are made with a mayo dressings. Which leaves the actual shape of the pasta to be the only discernable difference between the two. Now I’ve always hated macaroni salad, pouring mayo over pasta is just wrong no matter where you come from. So suffice to say I’ve never had a bite of this monstrosity that people around here call ‘pasta salad’ However as good as my pasta salad is, and as much as I love it especially on a warm summer’s day, sometimes eating the same Italian inspired flavor gets old, and boring. That’s why I love this recipe so much. I can really appreciate it’s creativity. I never would have thought to make an Asian style dressing for pasta salad, and it never would have occurred to me to use peanut butter on any pasta dish that wasn’t Pad Thai, but I’m so glad I found this recipe and saw the light.

The flavors in this salad are bold, and brilliant. You get that nice chewy mouth feel of al dente pasta, with that sweet, nutty richness of peanut butter. Except in my case I ended up using Almond Butter because I made this salad for a party at which I knew would be people with peanut allergies. I love also that the vegetables are julienne so they’re nice and thin and quick to cook, and I love that the vegetables are blanched rather then boiled. Blanching is perfect because it cooks the vegetables just enough to get them tender, but not enough to take away their crunch and that’s what I love about pasta salad, the chewy pasta with the crunchy vegetables.

The only other thing I changed about this recipe was that I left out the tempeh, but that was because I’m not a big tempeh fan to begin with, plus I was brining the salad to a party of omni’s that might have otherwise ignored the salad. You never want to present them with something too ‘strange’ after all. However if you like tempeh I’m sure the salad would taste great with it, it would probably add a nice meaty texture and enhance the nutty quality of the whole dish. If you add a little liquid smoke into the pan when you cook up the tempeh it’ll give it a nice satisfying smokey flavor as well. I think too, that if you want to leave the tempeh out as I did, but want to add a little something, unsalted roasted peanuts would be a good choice, or if you know people with peanut allergies too, then slivered almonds. I ended up just loading up on the sesame seeds which was great too, but next time I’m going to do peanuts for sure! I’ll just have to keep the salad all to myself.

Despite whatever your personal opinion of Kim Barnouin and Rory Freedman or their "Skinny Bitch" books I have to say this recipe is a total win, and the "Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook" really does have a lot of good things to offer.

PS: Oh I nearly forgot, i also changed the pasta. I couldn't find brown rice spirals so i used gluten-free vegetable spirals which are my favorite anyway.


  1. Hey, those Skinny Bitches inspired me to go vegan back in 2005, so I'm no hater!

  2. I'm not sure if I ate this when you first made it (since it's been awhile since you posted this) but I'm assuming since it's a "pasta salad" - & knowing how I felt about them - I'm going to say that I didn't. But the pictures look really delicious! =D - Matt