Quick and easy recipes, now that is music to my ears. In her new cookbook, Jazzy Vegetarian, Laura Theodore takes a step back from the elaborate and sometimes quite strange dishes that vegan chefs are striving to create. Her focus is simple, flavorful cuisine that you can enjoy every day.
Though Laura offers the typical array of recipes in her cookbook, I found myself drawn most to the pastas. The ingredients that she uses in her pastas are ones that I almost always have on hand, and she doesn’t shy away from flavor, using gentle spices, fresh herbs, you name it.
The vegan broccoli penne recipe below is one that I could easily adapt from Jazzy Vegetarian to suit my pantry and personal tastes, and I liked that it used sun-dried tomatoes. I’m in love with the Bella Sun Luci line of sun-dried tomato products (I’ve bought them at Trader Joe’s and seen them at conventional grocers), and jump at any excuse to use them!
Laura didn’t specify the amount of salt and pepper used in this recipe, but I always like to give a ballpark, as “season to taste” leaves me wondering, do they mean a pinch or a teaspoon? I ended up using a full 1/2 teaspoon of salt, which may seem like a bit, but keep in mind that you are not using any salty cheese in this recipe and that the rest of the ingredients are nearly salt-free. That said, I would start with 1/4 teaspoon of salt in this broccoli penne and then add more as needed to avoid over-salting for your taste buds!
Also, the version in the book does use gluten in both the pasta and the sauce. Since my husband is gluten-free, I used a gluten-free pasta (the corn pasta from Trader Joe’s is our new favorite) and used flaxseeds instead of wheat germ, which turned out delightful.
As is, this is a very light and low protein dish. For a more well-rounded meal, I would add a protein of your choice. To keep it vegetarian / vegan, I think cannellini beans or chickpeas (about 1/2 cup) would go very nicely in this broccoli penne.
- 2 Ounces Sun-Dried Tomatoes Packed in Oil, mostly drained and chopped (about ⅓ cup of chopped sun-dried tomatoes, I used Bella Sun Luci in Extra-Virgin Olive Oil with Herbs)
- 8 Ounces Broccoli, cut into small florets (one medium-sized broccoli crown)
- 4 Ounces Penne Pasta (I used Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Corn Pasta)
- 1 Teaspoon Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar, optional
- 1 Garlic Clove, crushed
- ½ Teaspoon Dried Basil or 2 Large Basil Leaves, thinly sliced (I was out of the fresh stuff)
- ¼ to ½ Teaspoon Salt, to taste (I used the full ½ teaspoon)
- ⅛ Teaspoon Ground Pepper
- 2 Teaspoons Flaxseeds, ground in your spice grinder (or about 1 tablespoon flaxmeal)
- Boil pasta adding the broccoli to the water when the pasta has 3 to 5 minutes left to cook (the corn pasta takes 15 minutes (the package is incorrect), so I add the broccoli when 4 minutes remain – that equals perfect doneness for me).
- While that is cooking, place the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, and stir to combine.
- When the pasta and broccoli are finished, drain thoroughly, then add them to the large bowl, tossing them with the other ingredients to evenly coat.
- Add more salt, pepper, or oil to taste, if desired.