janet @ the taste space

Rasta Pasta

In Mains (Vegetarian) on January 27, 2012 at 6:50 AM

It is no secret that Rob and I may choose our next vacation destination based on its cuisine. Obviously, Iceland wasn’t picked based on its cuisine, although the food I had was top-notch (although not Icelandic).

One country that is creeping up in our list of places to visit is Jamaica. I don’t know how widespread the Rastafari movement is, but with its mostly-vegan cuisine (called ital), vegan options free of chemical and artificial additives should be available throughout Jamaica. According to wikipedia, they prefer more natural vegetables and fruits such as coconut and mango. Rob would be in heaven.

There are Rasta communities around the world, including Toronto where I’ve been to One Love, which serves ital and other Caribbean vegan meals. However, my introduction to Rastafarian cuisine was in Japan of all places. Around the time I was heading to Japan, Heidi gushed over Tokyo’s only ital noodle shop. Sure enough, a lover of food but not even vegetarian at the time, we scoped out this teeny tiny restaurant completely off the tourist track. We enjoyed our noodles and other veggie dishes. While this was Heidi’s best meal of her trip, I will admit that my fresh sashimi was unbeatable at the Tsukiji Market.  If I were vegan at the time, I would have really appreciated the vegan soba noodles. In Japan, fresh soba noodles are richer because they are typically made with Japanese fish broth, dashi.

Now that I am vegan, I was stoked to try Rasta Pasta that I found in Big Vegan. A bowl full of vegetables (green beans! mushrooms! collards!, tomato!), with some noodles, too, in a coconut-curry-tomato sauce. It had a lot of the similar ingredients as my favourite Kelp Noodles, Baby Bok Choy, Broccoli and Red Pepper with a Coconut-Peanut Sauce but it was so different.  The recipe called for 1 tbsp of curry powder. I’ve made other Caribbean dishes that were unpalatable by their heat (ok for Rob, just not me), so I went tame. I didn’t even use curry powder. I substituted 1 tsp of garam masala instead.

It was a quick noodle stir-fry. With the garam masala, it was savoury. It lacked the sweetness from coconut-peanut sauce, and originally I thought it was rather pungent but truthfully, as I ate the leftovers, that was exactly why I liked it. Nothing too crazy and creamy, just a savoury veggie and noodle dish. However, now that the Madras curry powder has been given the green light in my kitchen, I’d love to try this again with curry powder. If you try it, let me know how you like it!

As a vegan, where would you prefer to travel?

This is my submission to this week’s Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Ruth, to this week’s Wellness Weekend and to My Kitchen, My World for Jamaica.

Rasta Pasta

1 tbsp coconut oil
3 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp garam masala (or 1 tbsp curry powder if you dare!)
1/4 tsp allspice
1.5 cups collards (100g), thinly sliced
1 cup fresh tomato, chopped
1 cup green beans, chopped
1 cup edamame, thawed
4 oz mushrooms, chopped (I used oyster mushrooms but white ones would be ok too)
1/2 tsp Aleppo chili flakes
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp tomato paste
12 oz kelp noodles, washed (or your favourite  thin and long noodles – soba, angel hair, etc – get it boiling while you make the veggies)
1/2 tsp salt

1. Heat a large frypan with the coconut oil over high heat. Add the green onions and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the garam masala and allspice, stirring to lightly toast. Add the collards, tomato, green beans, edamame, mushrooms and chili flakes. Stir-fry over medium-high heat until they have softened, around 3 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, stir together the stock, coconut milk and tomato paste in a small cup. Pour over the vegetables in the pan and brign toa  simmer. Simmer until it was slightly thickened. Season with the salt.

3. Add the pasta, and toss to coat well. Remove from heat and serve hot. Leftovers are great chilled, too.

Serves 4.

  1. What a great post. Very informative, very lovely to look at and Very exciting even for the non-vegans among us. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights and I hope to see you and your dishes here often.

    PS a trip to the Caribbean would be awesome!

  2. I haven’t expored Jamaican food much but your posts are making me want to!

  3. I feel like anywhere in the Caribbean, where the emphasis is on fresh flavors and produce, would be ideal! I never realized rastas were vegan! This curry sauce sounds ideal for me…I’d be slurping it straight out of the bowl!

  4. I don’t usually think of Jamaica for food inspiration, but I’d like to try more of their cuisine! India would be my choice for the easiest country for vegans to travel. I was there before I was vegetarian, but I ate mostly veg anyway…where I was, there were always more veg options at all the restaurants than non-veg, so it would have been difficult for me to eat meat even if I wanted to! It’s such the opposite here!

  5. You need to start making your own curry powder; then you can totally control the amount of heat in it, the balance of flavours, etc. There are special Jamaican curry powders (and recipes) that taste very little like Madras curry powder. And it’s easy! That said, how the heck can you go wrong with a recipe like this one, no matter what flavouring you use? Yum, it looks great! Travel, man, I hate it. When they can beam me to an exotic location and back to my own warm bed by nightfall, *then* I’ll see the world! For now, I’ll just experience it through food 😉

  6. I am intrigued by jamaican cuisine now. i dont think i have tried any real jamaican dishes. love the mish mash greens, beans and coconut milk in this. i dont know what the curry powder ingredient are to make it totally weird, i make my own garam masala!:)

  7. I love the combination of all the veggies in this dish. My MKMW dish this month is actually vegan too but I didn’t realise it until reading your post just now!

  8. Um, yeah. So I have yet to try kelp noodles or shirataki and I keep saying I’m going to… I don’t know what I’m waiting for! Maybe this recipe? It must must must be the one to try. Ok, I’m doing it. Soon, I promise!

    PS I definitely choose my vacation destinations based on cuisine (Greece! Portland!) but I had no idea Jamaica was known to be so vegan-friendly 🙂

    • Kelp noodles are so much better than shirataki noodles! I’ve used shirataki noodles in miso soups with good results, though. For kelp noodles, I like them in stir fries or other Asian noodle-based dishes.. whenever a recipe calls for noodles, I just pull out kelp. 🙂 I can’t wait to see what you create, Cara! 🙂

  9. One of the best vegan restaurants in DC, Everlasting Life Cafe, is run by rastas. The vibe in there is always great, the food always innovative…kind of like this spectacular dish.

  10. Like Gena said, this dish was spectacular! Used heaping portions of the curry powder, a little garam masala. Forgot the green beans. Served over soba noodles. Next time may do it over quinoa. Will use the leftover coconut milk for the tofu chowder.

  11. […] Creamy Spinach and White Bean Dip – Sunshine Carrot Tofu Scramble with Spinach – Rasta Pasta – Jamaican Tofu Chowder with Collards – Japanese Okonomiyaki Veggie Pancake – Seitan Burgundy Stew […]

  12. […] not everyone enjoys greens as much as me (like Rob), and may be more likely to add collard greens to stir fries or soups instead. When I cooked my chickpea-collard roulade, though, I was aghast at how creamy […]

  13. […] vegetables can get boring. I would probably pick green beans. While I have made some great dishes with them, I don’t find them that versatile. Zucchini, on the other, doesn’t taste like […]

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