We had a pasta craving, but since tomatoes aren't in season and we're a little cream-sauced out, we thought this absorption pasta (made similarly to risotto but with less stirring) was just the thing. I don't know how I feel about the name of this newfangled method of tasty pasta making (so akin to infusions and turduckens and other food with schmancy lingo)... but I wanted to give it a go after being inspired by THIS yummy-looking (albeit non-vegan) recipe on Design Sponge. So, the only thing we borrowed from the original recipe is the method of cooking the pasta and the use of lemon zest, but this came out really great in the end. Without further ado, we give you
Zesty Absorption Pasta!
- about two cups of some kind of smallish, firm pasta (pasta rigate) such as serpentini (what we used), penne, radiatore, etc. I think this dish merits a squiggly pasta, but that's just me. (Seliacs...you know what to do).
- four cups of vegetable broth (we used an extra cube of Rapunzel (tm) brand, salt-free bouillon to make a 3 cube/4 cup water ratio)
- one large yellow or white onion, diced
- about half a head of garlic, diced (more or less depending on your preferences and whether you're inviting any vampires to dinner)
- the zest of one lemon (in retrospect, I would use less- maybe the zest of half a lemon)
- a big drizzle of olive oil
- a splash of dry-ish red wine (I think we used Paul Dolan (tm) Red Zin)
- two small heads of broccoli, cut into florets and the stalks peeled and cut into chunks
- a big handful of baby spinach
- about ten crimini mushrooms (or whatever mush you have on hand) vertically cut into quarters
- a small handful (about 1/4 cup) of slivered almonds- you could also try pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, hemp or flax seed, but wait until the very end to add the last two
- salt to taste (I'd start with a teaspoon and go from there)
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- a dash of red pepper flakes
- any or all of the following in moderate amounts: fresh or dried thyme, oregano, rosemary or herbs de provence
- we also used a little bit of rosemary salt (allowing some fresh rosemary to heat up with the oil in the bottom of your pan before throwing anything in would have a similar effect)
Dice and slice your veggies ahead of time and put them into individual pretty bowls, cooking-show style. You'll be glad you did. Heat the oil on medium-high heat in a large wok-type skillet or soup pot. Throw in onions, garlic, and some salt. Let those cook down for a minute, then add your DRY pasta and stir to coat with oil and heat the pasta through. Now add the splash of wine and stir in. Once the onions are translucent, add most of your stock- I'd say about 3 cups-worth. It should completely cover the noodles. Allow the broth to cook into the noodles for a bit- maybe about eight minutes or so.
Add broccoli pieces and mushrooms. You'll notice that the liquid is being absorbed into the pasta and also evaporating, so you may need to cover your pan for about two minutes to steam the broccoli. Stir baby, stir. Test the broccoli and remove the lid when it's al dente. Test the pasta too, as it's best served al dente. You may wish to reserve out the rest of the broth for pouring into the finished dish if you want it soupier, or you may want to add the rest now to infuse it (that's right) with flavor.
At this point, add the spinach, almonds, ground pepper, red pepper flakes, herbs and lemon zest. Stir thoroughly and allow the spinach to wilt. Keep an eye on the broccoli and pasta lest they get limp. Add more salt to taste if necessary.
Dole out into bowl-plates and spoon a little of the soupy mix over the top of the pasta. Serve with a small salad or bread.