Sunday, March 3, 2013

Meatless (and Oilless) Monday

So my good friend Nicole threw down the gauntlet.  Make a vegan meal completely oil free.

And I panicked. 

How could you possibly make something tasty without oil?!  Well, as Nicole pointed out, without oil doesn't mean without fat.  She pointed me towards nuts, olives, tahini, seeds, avocados and the like.  And she's always wanted me to cook with nutritional yeast (or more affectionately referred to as "nooch").

Okay.  This occasional carnivore is totally diving into some oil-free vegan love.

Whole Wheat Shells with Almond Garlic Sauce and Green Things

A perfect substitute for those alfredo lovers.  Creamy, extremely flavorful, and filled with green things, you would never guess that it is oil free!

1 cup blanched almonds
1 cup water
16 oz whole wheat shells
3 cloves garlic
8 oz frozen peas
1/2 lb asparagus, sliced into thin diagonal pieces
2 1/2 cups spinach
1 1/2 Tbl lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh mint
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 Tbl nutritional yeast
salt and pepper

In a food processor or blender, combine almonds, water, garlic, and a pinch of salt and puree until smooth.  Just leave that sucker running for about 5 minutes.

Cook pasta in salted water until just before al dente (usually about half the suggested cooking time).  Drain pasta and reserve 2 cups of the cooking liquid.

In a large pan over medium heat, whisk together almond puree and 1 cup pasta water for about 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add remaining cup of water, peas, and asparagus and cook for another 3 minutes until the sauce has thickened.  Add lemon juice, mint, basil, and nooch.  Stir to combine.  Add pasta and cook until pasta is al dente, about another 2-3 minutes.  Fold in spinach, and toss to wilt.  Spoon into bowls and garnish with toasted almonds, mint, and basil.

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