Penne with Pesto, Broccoli & “Sausage”

13 Jan

Day 11 – Tofurky to the rescue

Yesterday was a quasi snow day so I went with a friend to see Blue Valentine. How was it? Kind of depressing, cute and funny in parts, drawn out in others, ending is BLAH. I went for Michelle and Ryan, what can I say? But the point is… the entire time it smelled like bacon. I mean full-on, greasy, fat spattering, frying in the pan for breakfast, hangover-curing, bacon. It could have been the hot dogs, or perhaps being vegan has given me a super-powered snout, but that bacon was taunting me the entire movie. And I never really ate it to begin with!

Needless to say, I left with this deep, dark, craving for something salty, smoky, and basically, bad. You are not going to believe what answered the call. Drumroll please…. Tofurky Italian Sausages. I can see your face all squished up EWWWWing. I honestly really, REALLY like them but, I’m very particular about how they’re prepared.

As I’ve mentioned before, I honestly stay away from faux-meat/cheese mainly because they’re too processed… That said, there comes a time in every girl’s life when you have to bite the bullet and eat the Tofurky. This was that time.

Below is my Ode to Pig. And a shout out to Savvy Vegetarian for inspiring the vegan pesto.

Penne with Pesto, Broccoli & “Sausage”

The “Sausages”

1 pack of Tofurky Italian Sausage

olive oil

1. Cut sausages into 1/2″ rounds. For this recipe, I only used (2) sausages. If I’m not going to eat the rest within a day or so, I usually put them in a freezer bag for next time. If you want more sausage, by all means, add more.

2. On medium-high heat, get a large saute pan hot. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan (about 2 Tablespoons). When the pan is hot enough, if you tilt it, the oil should fall in ripples. Add Tofurky making sure all pieces have one side in contact with the pan. Cook about 2-3 minutes until they have a nice brown sear. Flip and do the same on the other side.

3. Remove sausages from pan and reserve.

The Vegan Pesto (Adapted from the Savvy Vegetarian)

1 1/2 cups basil leaves

1/2 cup parsley leaves

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the olive oil on low in a small frying pan for 3-5 minutes. Peel, stem and coarsely chop the garlic. Add the garlic to the oil and lightly brown.

2. Lightly toast the pine nuts in a small fry pan on medium-low heat. Stir, and watch carefully to ensure they don’t get too brown. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.

3. Wash the basil and parsley. Fill a bowl with cold water with the herbs in it and swish them around for a few minutes. Take the herbs out, empty the water, and repeat a couple times until the water is clear. Dry herbs gingerly between a couple paper towels. Pull the leaves from the stems and measure desired quantities.

4. Add herbs, garlic, pine nuts, walnuts, lemon juice, salt and pepper to blender. Start blender and drizzle in oil gradually until all ingredients start to come together. Stop frequently to scrape the sides of the blender with a spatula. Blend until it turns into a paste (will still have little chunks and not be completely smooth). Can add more or use less oil to achieve desired thickness.

The Pasta & Broccoli

8 ounces penne

2 cups broccoli chopped into small florets

salt & pepper

olive oil

5. For the pasta, bring large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, salt the water, bring up to a boil again, then add the pasta.

6. In a large saute pan, put 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the broccoli, season with salt and pepper and cook until browned. Take 2-3 Tablespoons of pasta cooking liquid and pour over broccoli. Cover for a few minutes so the steam soften the broccoli. I like my veggies crispy but if you prefer them mushier, you can either steam/blanch them prior to sauteing, or you can add more pasta liquid and steam for longer time.

7. Once pasta is cooked (refer to package directions for cooking times), reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking liquid then drain pasta a transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add “sausage”, broccoli and pesto to pasta. Stir together until all ingredients are coated with pesto. If you need to thin out the pesto, add 1-2 Tablespoons of reserved pasta water.

8. Serve with a small squeeze of lemon and sprinkle of chili pepper flakes (if desired).

Tips:

#1 Pesto is very versatile. Use it as a spread on crusty bread, toast, in soup, mixed with any noodle/veggie, spread on fish or chicken if you’re not on the vegan train. There are so many options!! You can also freeze it in an ice cube tray if you have leftover that you cannot use immediately.

#2 When you need lemon juice, please, please, please do not buy those plastic lemon shaped bottles. I beg of you. Lemons will keep for a long time and nothing can compare to fresh juice. You’d be amazed, a little will go a long way when it’s fresh. Besides, how good can plastic zest taste?

#3 Try putting your salt in a ramekin or other small dish. I leave mine next to the cooktop at all times. It’s easier and I’ll argue you use less salt if you can feel it between your fingers. If it’s pouring out of a bottle or a salt mill it’s difficult to tell exactly how much you’re using.

OK I’m off the soap box. Happy cooking!!!
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