Fifty Shades of Greens
Many of our recipes are well talked through and planned between the two of us. We write shopping lists, buy enough groceries so we can test cook them properly a few times and make sure to take down notes during the process. I always use the laptop but Luise insists on scribbling on small pieces of paper that often end up in the hands of the kids and their crayons (can somebody please tell that woman to put her fancy new Macbook to use!).
We always feel quite content after having published one of those type of recipes. But it actually seems like the recipes from simple fridge and freezer findings that are whipped together quickly without a moment of planning, seem to spark just as much interest, even though they are very basic. This quick pasta dish with fifty shades of greens started out like that, with two hungry kids, half a package of pasta (made from legumes) and some leftover green vegetables (the ones on the photo obviously look a little less sad than the first time we made it). It ticks all the right boxes for a February recipe. Simple. Comforting. Nutritious. Vegan. Tasty!
It reminds me of a pasta dish I used to cook back when I was living in Rome. One of my favourite things to buy from the local farm stands were cute baby zucchinis (and they were so cheap!) that I sliced and fried with onion, garlic, thyme, capers, fresh herbs and spinach. Then I poured over a dash of cream and white wine before tossing in the cooked pasta. It was my go-to dinner for one, ready in 12 minutes.
Here we have added even more greens. We are using frozen peas and one whole broccoli, shaving the stem thinly and breaking the rest into small florets. The vegetables are cooked in coconut cream which also adds a little sweetness. When making green vegetable dishes like this, remember not to cook it too long. You just want to soften the vegetables up, not kill them. If you are a quick chopper, you can have dinner ready in less than 20 minutes. And if you are cooking for kids and are afraid that they will dream horrible nightmares from being fed too many vegetables, Elsa’s recommendation is skipping the spinach and add more peas. Because cooked spinach is: “The most horrible thing I have ever tasted in my entire life”.
Our pasta of choice here is a green pea fusilli pasta which is gluten free but also adds protein. Not to mention, it is green and bring yet another shade to this dish!
More and more alternative pasta/noodle products made entirely from legumes (beans, lentils and peas) are popping up in stores. Not only health food stores but also many supermarkets. We like them because they are nutritious alternatives to regular refined wheat pasta. They are also rich in fiber, made from complex carbohydrates, naturally gluten free and they come in many colours and shapes, which make it more fun for the kids to eat.
Pea, Spinach & Broccoli Pasta (aka fifty shades of greens)
If you don’t have all the vegetables at home, no worries, just use what you’ve got. You can use frozen broccoli and spinach instead of fresh. If you’ve got some leftover white wine in the house, try adding a splash together with the garlic and onion. And if you don’t fancy coconut milk/cream, you can use ordinary cream, Greek yogurt or a vegan alternative.
2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
4 cloves of garlic
1 yellow onion
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 tbsp pickled capers (use the brine as well)
½ large zucchini or 1 small, sliced into thin half moons
1 small broccoli, broken into small florets and stem sliced thinly
2 handfuls whole spinach leaves, rinsed
1 small can coconut cream or the solid top layer of a coconut milk (more info here)
1 1/2 cup frozen peas
1-2 tbsp lemon juice and a little zest
sea salt and pepper
chopped fresh parsley, for serving
Pasta for 4 servings, choose the sort you prefer (read about our pasta of choice above).
Bring a saucepan filled with water to boil. Add pasta and let cook until ready (as instructed on the package), then drain and set aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Finely chop garlic and onion and add to the skillet. Let sauté until fragrant and then add thyme, capers (and white wine, if using) and cook for another minute. Add zucchini and broccoli and cook until almost tender. Now add peas, spinach, coconut cream, lemon, salt and pepper and cook until the spinach is just wilted. Taste and adjust the flavors to your liking.
Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and mix to combine.
Scatter over fresh parsley and serve. Non-vegans can of course add some grated cheese if they wish.