Have you had "Pasta Con Broccoli?" Peter wasn't familiar with it, but I grew up eating it.
I adapted this recipe from the "Lemon Garlic Pasta" in Dreena Burton's Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. This dish has been my go-to recipe for nights when I don't have much time or energy to make dinner and I'm already really hungry and want food fast.
Lemon Garlic Pasta (Con Broccoli) Bowl: Serves 2-4
GRAIN:3/4 lb. cooked pasta (brown rice, whole wheat, any will do)
STEAMED VEGETABLE:1 head broccoli, cut into florets and steamed for five minutes
BEAN: 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
SAUCE: 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (juice from 2 lemons), 2 garlic cloves (minced), 1/2 tsp. sea salt, black pepper (to taste), 1.5 tsp. agave nectar (or sugar/your preferred sweetener), 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup olive oil. Whisk it up!
HEALTHY FAT: 1/3 cup toasted walnuts (toast at 350 for 10 minutes), chopped
When pasta is cooked, add back to the pot with remaining ingredients. If you'd like more moisture, add some vegetable broth.
I've recently discovered an easy, foolproof way to make dinner in under an hour. There's very little planning involved and it's mostly hands-off cooking time. I was so excited when I discovered it that I blabbed about it at work all day. I even decided to design a class to teach at my work on it (we hold cooking classes on the days we're closed). It might be totally old news to you and maybe you've been making dinners like this forever, but JUST IN CASE you haven't been, I want to share my secret.
My grain is almost always brown rice. I cook it in Peter's really old rice cooker and it cooks just fine in under an hour (but it does take about an hour). My sister told me she buys rice at Trader Joe's that she microwaves and eats in a few minutes, but I just put the rice in the rice cooker the moment I get home and it's ready by the time I'm ready to eat. (And I'm pretty sure it's a lot cheaper to buy a big bag of brown rice than to buy "minute" rice, but I haven't explored the price difference myself).
I do 2 cups rice with 5 cups water (1:1.5 ratio rice:water), always with a sprinkle of salt and sometimes a splash of olive oil. I don't think my rice cooker does so well with less than 2 cups rice, so I always make 2 cups. Peter and I always have some leftover, which I place in the refrigerator and use the next day (I will have posts on "what to do with leftover rice?" -- look out for 'em!). So 2 cups rice is enough for about 2-4 people.
(You obviously don't need a rice cooker to cook rice; it's just what I find the easiest. Follow the instructions on your bag of rice).
My steamed vegetable is usually something green, most often broccoli. I sometimes switch it up with another cruciferous vegetable, like cauliflower, brussels sprouts, or purple cabbage. I use my inexpensive steamer basket that fits into a pot. Once the water starts to boil, I cover the pot and let it steam for about five minutes. I prefer lightly steamed veggies with a little crunch.
My bean is most often canned, either black, kidney or garbanzo. I just rinse well and drain. It's as simple as that. I sometimes cook green lentils (simmer for 30-45 minutes) if I have more time. You could also use tofu or tempeh. I prefer mine marinated and baked. You could also simply spray plain (firm or extra-firm) tofu cubes with oil, bake at 375 for 30 minutes, flipped halfway through and sprayed with oil again (bake a little extra for chewier tofu).
The flavor part can be as simple as 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon agave (or sugar). But use any sauce you like.
Another way to boost flavor is to use onions and garlic! They add a ton of flavor and the allium family is good for your health! In the bowl pictured above, I caramelized onions using this method (replacing the butter with olive oil). You could also use roasted garlic or minced raw garlic (or raw onions, too!).
I was looking through past blog posts recently and realized I never really mentioned an important update in my life. The last time I wrote anything that involved my personal life was nearly two years ago! As a measure of that time, I'm now divorced and engaged.
Soon after my separation, I moved back to my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. I began a job (that ironically I turned down the year before to move to Michigan) working in the kitchen of a vegan restaurant. Since starting at the restaurant, I've been promoted to kitchen manager, which has been wonderful. I create new recipes and everything's vegan!
Moving on to the exciting news. I'm getting married! Peter and I live together with our combined ("Have you seen the Brady Bunch?"--Carla Tortelli, Cheers) pack of dogs in a house on a quiet street in a suburb of St. Louis (although it feels more rural than suburban).
Peter and I picked out my engagement ring by VK Designs together. We couldn't be happier with the ring! Val (of VK Designs) lives in Portland, Oregon, so we couldn't see it in person before ordering it and there are no refunds or exchanges (because the ring was a custom order), so it was a gamble. But we are so happy with it! (Obviously the wedding band on the outside won't be worn until the wedding; just tryin' it on).
We're planning a fall Wedding (October, my favorite time of year). We are most likely holding the ceremony at Creve Coeur Park, where we met and had our first date. We're trying to keep it small and nontraditional. Our wedding planning has been like this so far.
I'm glad to be back on the blog! I'd love to hear from you. xoxo, Rebecca
This recipe is adapted from Isa Does It. I've been enjoying it so much lately that I thought it was time to post on the blog. The orange juice adds a sweetness to the dip I really like. Don't leave the onions out; they help to balance the sweetness of the orange juice.
Secret Ingredient Guacamole: Adapted (slightly) from Pepe's Secret Guacamole in Isa Does It
2 ripe avocados
3 tablespoons finely chopped onion (I used 1/4 of a red onion)
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (I use the juice of 1 orange)
Mash the avocado with a fork and mix in remaining ingredients.