Whenever you need to make a quick vegan meal, pasta with vegetables is a good choice—and even better if you use a pasta that’s high in protein content. Today’s recipe, Gluten-Free Pasta with Broccoli and Vegan Cream Sauce, features mung pasta so I can introduce readers to this healthy gluten-free option. Of course, if you don’t have mung pasta on hand, you can also use red lentil, chickpea, or your pasta of choice.
I know that mung pasta doesn’t make for the prettiest photo, but as my readers know by now, Ayurveda is all about ease of digestion, and pasta made from mung bean flour fits the Ayurvedic way.
Benefits of Mung Pasta
Mung pasta, like mung beans, tofu, or even traditional wheat pasta, has a neutral flavor that comes alive only with lots of herbs, spices, or sauce. This dish has a simple “cream” sauce made from almond milk and leftover soup stock, along with fresh garlic, ginger, rosemary, and—for another layer of flavor—a few ground spices.
All the benefits of whole cooked mung beans—high in nutrients, high in antioxidants, high in fiber—are associated with mung pasta. And, like mung soup, the pasta is excellent for getting things moving, if you get my meaning.
RECIPE: Mung Pasta with Vegan Cream Sauce
Preparation time: about 30 minutes
Serves 4 to 6
1 leek bulb plus an inch of the light green shank
2 broccoli stalks with florets
¼ cup or more olive oil, divided
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup fresh vegetable stock (if available)
12 to 16 ounces mung pasta or other gluten-free pasta
6 to 8 ounces arugula or spinach
¼ cup pine nuts or pistachios (optional)
Vegan Cream Sauce
1½ cups almond milk (or 2 cups if stock is unavailable)
2 teaspoons arrowroot
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or thyme
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger or garlic or 1 teaspoon of each
1½ teaspoons mineral salt, or more, to taste
Time Saver: Just use the broccoli florets and save the stalks to use with a mixed vegetable dish another day.
Cook’s Tip: If you have extra time and want to add some extra color to this dish, add some chopped red pepper to the pan in step 2 after the leeks. Or prior to starting the recipe as written, roast a couple of carrots and parsnips or cubed butternut squash or sweet potato, which will also add more bulk.
- Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large soup pot in which you’ll later cook the pasta.
- Prepare the vegetables: Clean and slice the leek. Cut the broccoli head into small florets. Peel the broccoli stems and cut into bite-sized pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat. When the oil is warm, add leeks and sauté them for about 5 minutes until they turn uniformly golden. (If using diced red peppers, add them now and sauté 5 minutes.) Add cumin, coriander, and nutmeg and stir.
- Add the stock and broccoli to the leeks (and red pepper). If you don’t have stock, add ½ cup of water. Cover, let the broccoli steam 5 to 7 minutes until just tender. While the broccoli is cooking, add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook for 9 to 10 minutes, until tender. (Skim the foam that forms and throw it away.) Make the sauce during this time.
- Make the sauce: Chop the rosemary and pull the thyme leaves off their stems. Pour the almond milk into a small bowl or measuring cup, and whisk in the arrowroot. Add the rosemary or thyme. Add ginger and/or garlic. Pour the sauce into the pan with the broccoli, and stir a couple minutes until the sauce is bubbling and thickening.
- Combine all the ingredients: Place the arugula or spinach into a large mixing bowl. Add the broccoli and warm sauce directly onto the greens to wilt them. Strain the pasta. Pour the pasta back into the pot and cover with cold water, and quickly strain a second time. Combine the pasta with the greens, broccoli, and sauce. Add extra oil to coat the pasta. If using roasted vegetables, add them now. Toss the mixture and salt generously to taste. If you wish, add nuts of your choice, and serve immediately while warm.
- Ayurvedic Note: Like all cruciferous vegetables, broccoli increases vata. However, ginger, garlic, and the ground spices in this recipe soothe vata, making this dish fine for people with a vata imbalance when eaten once a week.
Enjoy this dish anytime you want a quick meal that is easy, satisfying, and delicious!