Creamy Natto Pasta

Never in a million years would I have thought of using natto with pasta.  The idea came from the recipes in the little GEM Cultures pamphlet that came with the spores to culture the mold.  (Yup, I’m one of those people that really loves tempeh, natto and back in my pre-vegan days, the somewhat stinky cheeses.)

This is my version of their idea, using the natto to add depth and umami to a bit of cashew-cauli cream sauce.  At this point, my sister would chime in with, “depth and umami?  My ass.  That’s code for gross and slimy old-sock cheesiness.”  Therefore, if you love natto, this will be a hit.  If you can’t stand the stuff, then skip this recipe and wait for the next post!

Yield: 1 serving

What you need:

  • 5 scallions (green onions), thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons of natto (how much do you like natto?…  One individual serving package is about right if you don’t make it yourself)
  • red (hatcho) miso & Dijon mustard to flavor the natto to taste
  • 3 cups thinly sliced lacinato kale (or another robust green you like)
  • salt
  • 1 cup cooked pasta, gluten-free if desired or required (I like the GoGo Quinoa 2-colour supergrains fusilli for this)
  • 5 tablespoons vegan white sauce of choice (there’s usually a batch of Cauliflower Mornay sauce from the Wicked Healthy Cookbook kicking around the fridge or freezer at our place, and that’s what I used here.  Any cashew cream or cashew-cauli cream or vegan alfredo sauce you make and love will work fine.  It’s a great way to use up small leftover amounts!)
  • Toasted nori flakes and/or chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

What you do:

  1. Mix the natto with miso and Dijon mustard to taste.  Set aside.
  2. Heat a pan or skillet (non-stick preferred) over medium heat.  Make sure you have a tight-fitting lid for the pan.  Add the scallions and dry fry until softened.  If you want to cook with added oil, feel free to add some to the pan along with the scallions.
  3. Lower the heat a bit and add the natto.  Yes, it will stick to the bottom of the pan.  That’s okay.  Scrape and scrape and scrape a couple of minutes, until you’re swearing profusely at this recipe.
  4. Add the kale, mix it up in there, and lightly sprinkle with salt.  Mix once more, cover the skillet and turn heat to low.  Let cook until the kale is wilted, there’s moisture in the pan and it’s easy to clean/scrape off the crusty bits at the bottom of the pan, between 5-7 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat, add the pasta and sauce and stir to coat everything and distribute the vegetables and natto throughout.
  6. Return to the burner over medium-low for 3-4 minutes (or a bit more), until heated through.
  7. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and/or nori flakes if desired.

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