BROCCOLI STEM AND NETTLE ALFREDO
Photo by Sophie Mackenzie WHOLEHEARTED EATS
While broccoli stems are often thought of as tough and fibrous, peeling them reveals a tender and sweet centre which is great to roast, add to slaw, or in this case pureé into a creamy sauce. The combination of lemon, capers, olive oil, and vibrant green broccoli make for a super springy main that’s rich and creamy as any nutty vegan mac and cheese. The addition of making a quick version of plant-based ricotta out of homemade almond milk pulp helps add a salty hit and a great cheese-like lusciousness. And to think, we often compost the stuff. Happy week and here’s to doing more with less
DIETARY CONSIDERATION: Vegan, Vegetarian, Sugar-Free, Dairy Free, Gluten Free
Around 2 bunches broccoli
2 ½ cups nettles (or kale), lightly packed
2 teaspoons capers
Zest from ½ lemon
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup blanched almonds, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. sea salt
450 gr. (1 lb.) pasta
Toasted breadcrumbs for serving
Combine the soaked almonds and 3 cups filtered water in the container of a high speed blender and blend on high for 30-60 seconds. Strain the milk through a cheesecloth lined sieve into a bowl. Tie up the corners of the cheesecloth and squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the almond milk and save the rest for another use. Transfer the almond pulp to a medium bowl. Add the nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt and reserved almond milk and stir well to combine. Set aside.
Bring a pot of well salted water to a boil. Peel the broccoli stems and cut into ½ inch rounds (you should have about 2 cups). Add the stems to the boiling water. Blanch the broccoli stems for 7-10 minutes, until very tender. Add the nettles (or kale) to the pot and blanch for a few more minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli stems and nettles to the container of a high speed blender (no need to rinse it out from the milk). Add the capers, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, salt and 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Blend on high until completely smooth. With the blender running at medium, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream to the sauce.
Cut the rest of the broccoli into bite sized florets and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes. Add the broccoli florets and cook for another 3 minutes. Drain the pasta before returning it to the pot. Add the sauce to the pot and stir well to evenly coat. Serve with dollops of ricotta and toasted breadcrumbs.