Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spaghetti with Broccoli and Lemon

One of the most common misgivings I hear from people about eating a vegan diet is how time consuming it is. People have this idea that being vegan means spending hours finely slicing vegetables, processing complicated juices, and hand-picking grains to mill into flour. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little. But, people genuinely fear the effort perceived in veganism.

Yes, there is work involved in the food that I eat, but that comes more from being healthy than being vegan. The key to a healthy diet is to make most of your food yourself. This allows you to control the amount of additives, preservatives, salt, and fat that you eat, and reduces the amount of processed ingredients you consume. I could technically be vegan, and eat nothing but takeout, french fries, and donuts from Whole Foods. Is there a lot of work in that? No. Would I be the picture of health? No, again.

Like most people, I don’t always have time to prepare intricate, complex, and elaborate meals in the name of health. So, when I find something that hits the trifecta of healthy, delicious, and quick, it ends up becoming a staple. This dish was tossed together for Sunday lunch with a spinach, dried cherry, and marcona almond salad, and toasted ciabatta. The longest step: boiling the water for the pasta.

Spaghetti with Broccoli and Lemon

1 pound spaghetti (whole wheat for a little nutritional boost)
1 head broccoli, chopped into small florets (in the interest of saving time, you can buy pre-cut florets)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti until it is a minute or two away from being done. Save 1 cup of the pasta water.

While the water is boiling, cook the broccoli. You can boil the broccoli in a small pot of water for a few minutes, rinse under cold water, and set aside; or, you can place the florets in a bowl with a couple tablespoons of water, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 3-4 minutes. Broccoli should be fork tender, but not soft.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat, and then add the garlic. Pay careful attention that the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the broccoli, and toss with the olive oil and garlic. Add the lemon zest and chili flakes, and stir to combine. Add the pasta, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the pasta is done and coated with sauce. Add more pasta water if the spaghetti looks dry. Finish with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

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