roasted broccoli + parm pasta

pasta broccoli kale Chile

An easy, quick and comforting winter pasta with plenty of green to balance it out.  You can use any green or cauliflower or squash etc instead of the broccoli.  If you don’t want to use the oven, you can throw in the broccoli with the pasta during the last 3-5 minutes of cooking.  In the picture I used kale instead of broccoli- but you get the point, you can really adapt it to any veggie.  Just don’t leave out the parm.

2 large heads broccoli/2 bunches broccoli rabe or broccolini
dried pasta, I used 12 ounces for 4 servings
olive oil- enough to coat the broccoli + 4 tablespoons extra virgin for the rest
4+ cloves garlic
1.5 cups/1 can cannellini or great northern beans
1 lemon, skin zested finely + set aside, lemon cut into quarters
crumbly parm (or 1/2 cup well-toasted walnuts, chopped)
red chili flakes

Preheat oven to 425F.  Meanwhile, start a pot of generously salted water boiling for the pasta, and cut up the broccoli (peel the stem if tough, but use the stem + florets) into bite size pieces (if using broccolini or broccoli rabe, use it whole, trimming any tough ends).  Toss with oil and generous sprinkling of salt and spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet, roasting until tender and crispy at the edges, from 15-25 minutes depending on how large the pieces are.  Keep an eye on the to prevent burning- turn pieces over if needed.

When the water boils, add the pasta and set a timer for the corresponding cooking time.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, add the garlic with 3 tablespoons olive oil and set over a medium heat, watching closely as the garlic starts to cook and removing immediately with tongs or a fork when it turns a pale gold (careful not to go over or it will taste bitter/acrid).  Set garlic chips aside on a small plate and in the same pan with residual oil, add the beans and a pinch of salt and stir to heat through.  Your pasta should be done by now- if not, just set the beans aside off-heat until the pasta is ready.  Scoop a bit of the starchy pasta cooking water out of the pot and then drain the pasta.

Into the pan with the beans, add the drained pasta and 1 tbsp more olive oil, toss well to combine, adding a splash or two cooking water if needed to moisten.  Remove from heat and add the lemon zest and a big pinch of salt.  Divide between bowls, adding the garlic chips on top and liberally sprinkling over the vegan parm or walnuts and serving each bowl with a wedge of lemon and plenty of chili flakes.

 

 

manicotti + simple marinara

Cashew ricotta manicotti Italian

When I saw gluten free manicotti shells at my co-op, I knew I had to take them home with me!  The ones I used are these ones by Jovial Foods.  The box is recyclable and the plastic looking window is certified home compostable wood pulp!  Plus, they taste amazing- they’re my hands down favorite brand of gluten free pasta- they cook al dente without gummy texture or off flavors.

To fill them, I knew I wanted something creamy (which is where I usually turn to cashews) but I needed to cut it with something to make it less heavy and more nutritionally dense.  I remembered a lasagna recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegan For Everybody, which uses cooked cauliflower blended with the cashews to add bulk and creaminess without getting too heavy.  I wasn’t sure if it would taste just right stuffed in the manicotti- I haven’t had these since going vegan- and sometimes Italian recipes which rely heavily on gluten and animal products can be hard to replicate well.  To my delight, the texture and taste was perfect, gluten free, vegan and all.

Manicotti

So many of you asked for an exact recipe after I showed them in my Instagram story (I saved it to my highlights so you can still watch it!) that I thought I’d write it up here for you to reference back to if desired.  My marinara is super basic and relies heavily on good ingredients, so search out good canned tomatoes and good olive oil.  I can my own tomatoes every summer with my mom (ever since I can remember) and it’s so worth it for the rich flavor all winter long- it’s not hard but does take a full day of work.  We use a pressure canner and go off the instructions in the booklet it comes with- it’s not scary or complicated at all.  Often farmers will sell their “seconds”- bruised or oddly shaped tomatoes- but the case at the market to you.  San Marzano store bought canned Italian tomatoes are the closest thing to the flavor of home canned.

manicotti

plant based manicotti

for the marinara:

2 x 28 oz cans whole tomatoes

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4-6 cloves garlic, chopped

a palm of fresh oregano (about 2 tsp chopped)

chile flakes (optional)

salt to taste

whiz the tomatoes and their juice for a few seconds in a blender or crush with your hands well to break them down into small pieces.

Add the olive oil and garlic to a pan and start the heat on medium high.  When the garlic starts to sizzle and become fragrant- about 30 seconds, pour in the tomatoes (don’t let the garlic burn or color, stir around if necessary) and the oregano and chile if using.  Reduce to medium low and let simmer, stirring occasionally, while you make the filling.

for the ricotta filling:

8 ounces (approx 2.5 cups) cauliflower, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1.5 cups raw cashews, chopped if whole

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

s+p

1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley or basil

Boil cauliflower and cashews in a large pot with 3 quarts of water and 2 teaspoons kosher salt until cauliflower is very soft and falls apart easily when poked with a fork, about 20 minutes.  Drain mixture in colander and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

Process cauliflower mixture, 3 tablespoons oil, and 1/4 cup water in processor until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, about 2 minutes.  Season with plenty of salt and pepper to taste.  Pulse in basil or parsley for just a few seconds to combine.  Mixture can be made up to 3 days ahead.

assembling:

1 box manicotti noodles or other stuffable pasta (12-15 pieces), cooked according to package directions

Preheat oven to 375 Fahrenheit.

In a baking dish, spoon some sauce to cover the bottom of the dish.  Working with one manicotti at a time, use a butter knife or a pastry bag to fill each shell.  I used a butter knife and packed it in half from each end.  Don’t worry if theres a few blank spots.  I wasn’t perfect about it but they all turned out fine after cooking.  Layer the filled ones in the dish.  Spread the remaining sauce over the top.

Cover dish with a lid or aluminum foil.  Bake for 40 minutes.  Remove from oven and plate.  I sprinkled extra chopped parsley and spooned leftover cashew ricotta that I had in the fridge over the top in little dollops (this recipe) but it would be delicious on its own too; or hold back some of the filling and dollop on top.

We served it with a simple fennel citrus salad- just toss together:

Fennel salad

1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced

1/2 a small red onion or fresh spring onion, thinly sliced

1 orange, cara cara, or grapefruit, pith removed and fruit sliced

1/2 cup fresh whole parsley leaves

a few handfuls mixed lettuces

juice of 1/2 a lemon

generous drizzle good extra virgin olive oil

salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

chili flakes to taste

 

 

lentil bolognese

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This lentil bolognese turned out so flavorful!  I had some lentils lounging in the fridge that needed to be used, so as usual, I planned my meal around them.  I always like to cook a legume on the weekend to have in the fridge to build meals easily- lentils go so well in grain salads, green salads, soups and more.  They are perfect little gems: gorgeous, easy to digest and packed with protein and iron.  Plus they have a nice hearty texture and can hold their own in this sauce.  Crimini mushrooms and tamari add a little umami, and plenty of aromatics make everything pop.  YUMMM let’s get to it.

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lentil bolognese (serves 4)

INGREDIENTS:

olive oil for sautéing

1/4 cup minced shallot or onion

1/4 cup minced carrot

1/4 cup minced celery

1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

4 cloves chopped garlic

2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning OR 1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

3 cups tomatoes- you can use chopped fresh or canned

1 tablespoon tamari

1.5 cups cooked lentils- I used French green; you can use any EXCEPT red lentils which will turn to mush

1/4 cup chopped basil or parsley + more for garnishing

METHOD:

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan or Dutch oven.  Add in the shallot, celery, carrot, and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened- about 7 minutes.  Add in the garlic, dried herbs, and chili flakes and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.  Add in tomatoes and tamari, stir, and simmer 20 minutes or until sauce has reduced and thickened.  At this point I pureed half of it before returning it to the pot; my kids prefer a smoother sauce.  You can do that too or leave as is; up to you!  Add in the lentils and basil and let cook minute or two to heat through.  Toss with pasta or zoodles or spaghetti squash, plate, and sprinkle with more chopped herbs and a generous sprinkle of my crumbly vegan parm .  Yum!  Keeps well in the fridge too.  Hope you guys enjoy it as much as we did!  If you make it, I’d love to see!  Tag me on instagram @mamaeatsplants .  Have a lovely weekend friends! xx A.

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