A couple of years ago I lived in a small university town that had a number of nice restaurants. One of them was an Italian one. They claimed to be the favourite restaurant of Günter Grass. The writer’s publishing house is in that town and whenever he had to travel there, he apparently visited the restaurant. They had a picture of Günter Grass and the restaurant staff next to the door. I admit, I was quite impressed when I saw this for the first time. We went to that restaurant a couple of times and although we never met Grass, we had some really nice pasta dishes there. They had the most amazing walnut filled ravioli. This dish and not Grass was the real reason why we kept going back there. I couldn’t get enough of the pasta. While eating at that restaurant I learned that walnuts and pasta make a quite addictive flavour combination. Lazy as I am I never attempted to recreate that ravioli dish. Instead I used walnuts as a base for a creamy sauce. The result was as delicious as the ravioli I used to eat at the Italian restaurant in the university town. This may not look very great, but I swear it is mighty delicious:
Tagliatelle in Walnut-Mushroom-Tempeh Sauce (serves 2)
200 g (7 oz.) tempeh, cut into small cubes
60 ml (1/4 cup) soy sauce
50 g (1/2 cup) walnut halves
120 ml (1/2 cup) unsweetened soy milk
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
300 g (10.7 oz.) brown button mushrooms, sliced
1 large scallion, sliced into rings
2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper to taste
lemon juice to taste
fresh basil for sprinkling
150 g (5.3 oz.) tagliatelle, cooked according to package instructions.
Combine tempeh and soy sauce in a small bowl. Toss well and set aside.
In a food processor, combine walnuts, soy milk, and garlic. Blend until creamy. You can also use an immersion blender for this. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in a pan. Add tempeh and cook for 2-3 minutes until it starts to brown. Add mushrooms and scallion and cook for ten more minutes until the mushrooms are soft. Add paprika, thyme, and walnut mixture. Stir well. If the sauce seems to thick, add a couple of tablespoons water or soymilk. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Toss with pasta. Serve immediately and sprinkle with fresh basil.