I Go Nuts For Greens

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As much as I love to eat meat, I love my greens just as much.  So much so that I would have no problem going vegetarian if I had to.  Or actually pescetarian (because I just don’t see any reason why I should or would give up seafood).

And most days, I do. If I want to throw an easy dinner together after work, pasta is always my go-to with roasted vegetables.  What could be simpler? Put foil on a pan, spread out your veggies, pour olive oil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Pop in the oven and after 20 minutes (or so depending on what veggie you are roasting) you have crisped and slightly charred roasted veggies, exactly how I like to eat mine.

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Almost no mess, barely any clean up (just don’t tear the foil and you’ll have almost nothing to wash) and delicious veggies to toss with pasta. Add some ricotta if you have some, add some parmesan cheese. A little pasta water to loosen it up. Done. My veggie of choice on a mindless day is normally broccoli.  It stands tall and superior in my veggie kingdom and I never tire of it.

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Last week, instead of just tossing the veggies straight with the pasta I decided to make a walnut pesto cream sauce to go with it.  I have a jar of walnuts sitting on my kitchen island and I wanted to incorporate it into my meal for the following reasons:

  1. Walnuts are extremely good for you
  2. I didn’t want them to go to waste
  3. I wanted to be reminded of my days in Italy where walnut pesto was everywhere.  You could buy jars of the ready made sauce and mix it in with your pasta at home.  Mmmmmmm.
  4. I feel good when I eat a tasty meal that is rich in vitamins and nutrients.  Broccoli and walnuts combined?  Doesn’t that sound like the ultimate superfood combination?

You will need a food processor for this but trust me when I say it requires very little work and clean up, perfect for any work night. Ok, let’s be honest here. Perfect for any night of the week really.  I’m just not a fan of having to do a lot of work for my food.

I don’t know why people toss out broccoli stems when they are perfectly edible and delicious.  Trim the ends but include the stems, sliced into about 1/4 inch thick slices.  You’ll see that there’s no need to ever toss them out again whenever you cook broccoli.

Dad and I were quite pleased with the dish. It was garlicky, creamy and delicious, pared really nicely with the charred and slightly crispy broccoli, and best of all, made us feel good.

– SS

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Walnut Pesto Cream and Roasted Broccoli Pasta
Feeds 3 hungry people, or 4 people with small appetites

What you need:
1 head of broccoli
454 grams of pasta of your choice (I used 1 linguine pack)
4 tablespoons walnuts
2 cloves of garlic
2 cups basil leaves
1/2 cup ricotta
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, plus extra for grating on top
salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons walnut or hazelnut oil (or just use olive oil)

What to do:

Roast the vegetables

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Cover a baking pan with foil, spread out broccoli on the pan.

2. Pour a lug of olive oil.

3. Season generously with salt and pepper.

4. Toss and pop into the oven for 20 minutes.

Prepare Sauce
1. Add garlic cloves to your food processor and process until finely minced.

2. Add walnuts and basil and process into a paste.

3. Add olive oil and hazelnut/walnut oil.

3. Add a little bit of water, the ricotta and parmesan cheese.  Process until everything has been incorporated.

Make your Pasta
1. Boil a pot of generously salted water with a splash of olive oil.

2. Cook pasta until al dente.

3. Drain and reserve pasta water.

Assemble
1. Mix pasta and sauce together.

2. Add some pasta water to the pasta/sauce mixture to thin out the sauce until it’s loose enough to coat all the noodles.  Keep adding spoonfuls of pasta water until you are happy with the consistency.

3. Toss in the broccoli and all its olive oil drippings. Mix well.

4. Grate extra parmesan cheese on top.

5. Serve and enjoy.

 

 

 

 

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