Wanting a quick meal recently, and wanting to add something to our 52 cookbooks list, I opened our copy of Urban Vegan for the first time in quite a long time. I was glad I did because this recipe for Orecchiette con Broccoli was fabulous (even though we didn’t have orecchiette and I used ziti instead). It’s basically a ton of garlic simmered in a ton of olive oil and mixed with pasta and broccoli. We topped it with what some call “vegan parmesan” and what we just call “pasta sprinkle” (because while delicious in its own right it’s really not much like parmesan). To make this particular batch of pasta sprinkle I ground up about 1/4 c. almonds, 2 Tbs. hemp seeds, 3 Tbs. nutritional yeast and 1/4 tsp. salt. Regardless of what it’s topped with though this is one pasta dish we’ll have to make more regularly!
A while back I read this fascinating article titled “The Island Where People Forget to Die“. I’ve read other articles more recently about what have been dubbed the “Blue Zones” – places in the world where people live extraordinarily long lives. These places have a few things in common, one of which is that their residents tend to eat a mostly plant-based diet. When another article about the Blue Zones came out recently in the New York Times I was intrigued by the description of the Ikarian Stew, especially since we’ve been getting fennel from our CSA and I’m never quite sure what to do with it. I found the recipe easily on-line and made it for dinner last night. It was super simple and really delicious. And it was a great way to use some additional CSA veggies, like onions and tomatoes. I cooked this in the Instant Pot – 18 minutes on high pressure – and it came out perfect but the stove top method is simple as well. I have to admit, a half cup of olive oil seemed like a lot so I didn’t use that much but still it was great. We enjoyed ours over whole wheat penne and I’m sure we’ll be making it again!
Mac & cheese (or pasta with some sort of creamy cheesy sauce) is a staple at our house and one that the kids love. An old standby (pictured above) is the “Cheezee Sauce” recipe from Robin Robertson’s Vegan on the Cheap. It’s quick to make and we usually add some peas or frozen spinach and pour it over pasta – a quick weeknight meal. For this, just add 2/3 c. nutritional yeast, 3 Tbs. cornstarch, 1 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. garlic powder to a saucepan. Whisk in 2 c. water or plain unsweetened soy milk and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thickened. Then stir in 1 Tbs. olive oil, 2 tsp. lemon juice, 2 tsp. cider vinegar and 1 tsp. mustard.
Another Robin Robertson recipe we just tried recently was the Butternut Mac and Cheese from Vegan Without Borders. This ups the nutrition with the addition of cashews and butternut squash. It’s slightly more involved because it requires a blender and it has to bake for a short time but it still came together quickly and was quite delicious.
I encourage you to give one of these a try or find your own favorite. Many vegan cookbooks have a faux cheese sauce recipe, or just Google “vegan mac and cheese” and you’re sure to find many options from which to choose.