My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Monday, August 6, 2012

Penne alla Cecca

This month marks BW and my 12th "veganniversary," and so I'd planned to share all sorts of vegan goodies on my blog during August. Due to circumstances beyond my control that plan hasn't panned out yet, though I am managing to add critter photos to my ABC Wednesday posts whenever possible. :-) In my vegan stash to share are a couple of recipes, and since we've been enjoying this dish frequently during this hot, busy summer and I just made another batch this morning, and because this is a perfect time for it with tomatoes and basil coming on in everyone's gardens, I wanted to post this one now before any more of August gets away...

A simple, easy, colorful dish that can be served hot, warm or cold, it's also a great recipe to serve to company since the tomato mixture can be made in advance, so when you're ready all you have to do is cook the pasta, toss and serve. Mangi, amici!

(adapted from a recipe by Nora Ephron in her book "Heartburn")

Drop 5 large tomatoes into boiling water for 1 full minute. Peel, seed and chop.
(OR, use a 28-oz or two 15-oz cans of organic diced or fire-roasted tomatoes instead)

Put into a large bowl with:
- a garlic clove, sliced in half
- 2/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (a .66oz/18gm package)
- salt (optional) (I use 3/4 tsp)
- crushed red pepper flakes (I use 3/4 tsp)

Let sit for a couple of hours, then remove the garlic. Boil one pound of organic penne (or the pasta of your choice ~ bowties are fun in this), drain and toss with the cold tomato mixture. Serve immediately.

My Notes:

The original recipe called for using linguini (and is therefore named Linguini alla Cecca), but we prefer the penne. The only other change I've made to the recipe is leaving out the 1/2 cup of olive oil.

Spear the cloves with toothpicks before adding them to the mixture to make them easier to find and retrieve when it's time to take them out. Sometimes I add an extra garlic clove, or leave them in an extra hour or two. We like garlic. :-)

Despite the recipe instructing us to "serve immediately," we like this any which way, and usually eat it as cold leftovers. BW often likes to add black olives to his, while I sometimes prefer a little garlic salt and nooch sprinkled on mine. 

"Cecca," a derivative of the name Francesca, is roughly pronounced "CHECK-ah." And since it's an Italian dish, I love that it shares its colors with the Italian flag!


  1. Am loving pasta (non-wheat) with anything so this will be added to the nom list. I was just about to ask did you ever add olives to it when I got to the remark about BW. Basil is my favourite herb too - love the smell, even if there is a disturbing undertone of aniseed...

    I have never heard of fire roasted tomatoes in a tin. If I went into Tesco or Asda and asked if they had them they'd probably throw rocks at me or something! And nooch (strange name!) is definitely something I would only be able to get online. It sound intriguing though so I will have to get my act together and order some along with other exotic ingredients I am unable to locate here. I think I'm doing pasta bake tonight if I can locate the recipe I saw for it!

  2. Barbara ~ Basil is probably my favorite herb as well, and I love the wonderful aroma therapy I get cutting up all the basil for this recipe!

    We love fire-roasted tomatoes and use them whenever diced tomatoes are called for (lacking good organic fresh ones!) If you can't find them, regular diced tomatoes are fine, fresh or canned/tinned.

    "Nooch" is an affectionate nickname for Nutritional Yeast flakes. Again, they're not necessary in this recipe at all. They impart a delicious cheesy/buttery color and flavor to foods, are wonderful on cooked veggies and potatoes as well as on pasta (and the brand we buy, KAL, is also full of B vitamins and amino acids, though I don't know if that's true of all brands). My understanding is that there's a brand of Nutritional Yeast in the UK called Marigold, which you can order online or find in health food stores. There may be other brands as well.

    Good luck locating the pasta bake recipe, and let me know if you try this one!

  3. P.S. I know "aromatherapy" is one word, but my spellchecker, that goes around correcting words automatically as I type whether they need correcting or not, doesn't! It's handy sometimes, but garbles what I intend to say by replacing words completely sometimes if I don't catch it.

  4. We celebrated our 10th anniv in February. We turned vegan from vegetarian as a gift to me for my 40th birthday.
    Jane x

  5. Jane ~ What a wonderful birthday gift that was! Appropriately life-affirming for a birthday, a gift that gives to others as well as to yourself, and a gift that keeps on giving! I love it! :-) Congratulations on more than a decade of joyful veganness!

  6. Yummo. I would probably leave the garlic in. Tomatoes and basil are certainly loving friends - they go soooo well together.

  7. Ellie C ~ Well, you can leave them in as long as you want, but you'll probably want to remove the garlic before you serve the pasta - they're raw cloves! :-)

    I agree, tomatoes and basil are a perfect combo! Pretty as well as tasty together!

  8. This is my kind of pasta! I love pasta dishes with red pepper flakes. They add such a great flavor.

    We've been having a whirlwind week ourselves, and this is just ordinary stuff. I can't imagine how busy you are with building a house on top of everything else!

  9. Molly ~ I do too, I often throw them in whether the recipe calls for them or not. :-)

    It's been like this for too long, I'm feeling very worn out and even with the new closing date (the 24th) that's 9 days later than the original, we're still sweating them making it. There are days it doesn't seem like it will ever be finished or that we'll ever be living there! I think it will feel real when they finally put the house numbers up. :-) So what have you guys been up to? Maybe our weeks were especially looney because of the full moon!

  10. Well, at least the end is in sight for you! I would be worn out, too.

    Our kind of busy has been the fun kind- lot of outdoor time. Still, I could use a rainy day to just sit around. :)

  11. Molly ~ Yesterday was another challenging day, but at least I have pasta to comfort me. :-)

    I'm glad you're enjoying outdoor fun, but I know what you mean about wishing for a rainy day now and then!

  12. Hey, a food post!! Yaay!

    That is the quintessential pasta dish in my opinion, tomatoes, basil, garlic...a bit of pepper...who needs anything else. Yum. It looks delicious! I really like that it's sort of a semi non-cook sauce too. I imagine it's very fresh tasting.

    And Happy Belated Veganniversary! Ours was about 7 years ago...but I don't know the exact date...we sort of just slipped into it from being longtime vegetarians.

    I think going vegan is one of the best decisions I ever made...I know fellow vegans always feel that way too! So, happy happy, and here's to a long, happy, and healthy vegan life!!

  13. Rose ~ I agree about this combo being the quintessential pasta dish! And you're right, it's very fresh-tasting. Perfect for late summer.

    Thank you! We don't remember the exact date, but it was in late August when we first met Howard Lyman when he and WillowJeane were visiting Vistara. Anyway, we use our forgetfulness about the date as our excuse to celebrate our veganniversary all month, though really we celebrate being vegan every day! :-) Definitely one of the best decisions we ever made as well, and we only regret not doing it sooner (and that it's a decision not made immediately by every human)! A long and prosperous, happy and healthy vegan life to you and John, too! :-)


Will Blog For Comments. :-)

Thanks for taking the time to leave yours!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...



  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

free counters