Vegan winter greens pasta with broccoli, leeks, frozen peas, and lemon. Garlic is roasted along with the other vegetables and the end result is a warm, very green pasta salad, ideal for weeknight meals. This takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and can easily be customized.
One of the very first recipes I ever posted here was for a spring greens pasta (in July, by the way, because that’s one of three months of warmth that happen in Manitoba). You know it’s old because it includes parmesan and I was still eating cheese then. I think that we usually associate greens with spring, but there are some great early winter greens available, too. A lot of the vegetables that come up first in spring are grown in the colder months as well, at least in more temperate climate areas. You can grow hardier plants in the winter just about anywhere with a little preparation, though, even in Canada. I know there are people back home who grow broccoli in the winter and it often drops down to -40C there. All I’m saying is that you don’t have to just eat pumpkin at this time of year, there are green vegetables too!
We used to eat pasta at least twice a week but I consciously cut it down in our diet to be more like once a month. Graham will make it if I’m not home but I’ve been trying to be a little more creative and not fall back on pasta as often. I found it was making me a little sluggish to eat it so often and I just wasn’t really feeling my best, not that whole grains are bad by any means, I just wasn’t getting the right balance. It’s a great weeknight meal, though, and I love getting some greens in this way. This dish is what I transitioned to for noodle-y comfort food instead of mac and cheese – it’s bright and fresh but still most definitely a cozy meal.
You can easily switch up the vegetables to suit what’s available for you, especially the types of leafy greens used. The one non-seasonal thing I use is peas, but they’re frozen anyway. Sometimes if I’m really lazy or hormonal I just use peas and no other vegetables, but I have to be totally unwilling to do just about anything to do that, because it’s a really easy dish. You make the sauce in the baking sheet that you roast the veggies in, and then just boil the pasta. Easy peasy. It’s nice to have a bit of a lighter dish during this time of excess, if you need a bit of a break from so many rich foods. This serves Graham and I but it can easily be doubled for a family or served as a side as well. I usually add chickpeas, but I was fresh out when I made this for pictures. Add them or little white beans for a nutrient boost. This only takes about 20 minutes to make so it’s a great weeknight meal option! At least, it takes me 20 minutes. I’ll allow up to 30, because it takes Graham about that long, hah.
I’ll be posting my birthday cake recipe for this year later this week – keep an eye out!
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Winter Greens Pasta
- 250 grams whole grain pasta*
- 1 head broccoli cut into florets
- 2 leeks sliced
- 6 cloves garlic skin on
- 1 tablespoon oil for roasting
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup / 100 grams frozen peas
- 2 cups / 60 grams winter greens rucola, swiss chard, etc.
- 3/4 cup / 125 grams chickpeas or little white beans
- Zest and juice of 2 lemons
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup pasta water
Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F. Place the broccoli, leeks, garlic, tablespoon oil, and spices onto a large baking sheet and use your hands to mix until the vegetables are coated in the spices. Roast for 15-18 minutes, or until starting to brown and just softened. Remove the skins from the garlic cloves after roasting.
Once the vegetables are in, cook your pasta. Make sure to salt the water. A couple of minutes before the pasta is done cooking, add the peas to the pot. Increase the heat slightly to keep the water boiling. Once the pasta is finished, reserve the 1/4 cup liquid and drain the rest.
Place the pasta back into the pot and cover. Once the vegetables are done, remove from the oven and stir in the greens, chickpeas, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, and pasta water to make your sauce. Add this mixture to the pot along with the pasta, mix, and serve hot.
• If you're going to have something finish first, it's better if it's the pasta than the vegetables. The pasta can stay warm while the vegetables finish, but usually they'll end up being done right around the same time.
• If you're trying to incorporate more whole grains into your diet, kamut pasta is a great place to start. It looks and tastes most like white pasta, in my opinion, but it's ultra healthy.
* I generally use whole grain kamut (my favourite) or spelt pasta. You can substitute gluten free pasta if you're intolerant, but still go for a whole grain option or choose a legume-based variety.