The first time T and I picked up our CSA share, we were eager to rush home and devour our spoils. As we filled our shopping bags with vibrant produce, I had grand ideas of the fancy scape risotto or vegetable bisque I would be making for dinner. By the time we had braved the packed crosstown bus and steaming hot B train, though, I was starving, crabby, and ready to eat. Too exhausted to attempt a fussy dinner, I chopped up a handful of scapes, sautéed them in olive oil with a hearty bunch of chopped kale, threw in a can of white beans for protein, gave it a squeeze of lemon, and tossed it all with some linguini and a shake of nutritional yeast. It was delicious, like a big, heaping bowl of late June. The best part was that, from start to finish, the whole shebang took less than half an hour.
Thus began our Thursday night post-CSA pasta primavera tradition. Every week, using whatever loot we get from our pick-up, I throw together a quick and easy pasta dinner. Using the basic template I’ll share below, the possibilities are endless. (I didn’t get a good picture of our first night’s masterpiece, so you are instead looking at tonight’s Chard and Green Bean Linguini with PInk Beans and Sesame Seeds.)
Choose Your Own Adventure Weeknight Vegan Pasta Primavera
(Known in my household as: How to Make a Big Dent in Your Weekly CSA Pick-Up When You’re Too Tired to Cook)
What you need:
- a few glugs of olive oil
- a lot of chopped garlic
- pepper flakes or whatever seasonings you like
- a generous bunch of greens, chopped
- at least 1 cup’s worth of a toothsome vegetable that will hold its shape when cooked (e.g. tomato, green beans, radish, turnip, scapes, whatever you have), chopped
- 1 can of beans, rinsed (Any kind will work. I prefer garbanzos or white beans)
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/3-1/4 box pasta of your choice
- salt to taste
- chopped fresh herbs, if you happen to have them on hand
- (nutritional yeast)
What you do:
- Heat a large pot of salted water over high heat. Once boiling, throw in the “toothsome” veggies and boil for 1-2 minutes, or until slightly tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and rinse under cold water to cool. Repeat process with chopped greens, however, remove from water after only about 30 seconds, until just wilted.
- Bring water back up to a boil, and add pasta. Boil according to package instructions, until al dente, reserving a couple tablespoons of liquid.
- While the pasta is cooking, coat the bottom of a heavy pan or Dutch oven with olive oil, and sauté garlic and the “toothsome” vegetable, along with a generous pinch of salt and red pepper flakes. Once the garlic and veggies begin to soften, stir in the greens and beans along with another small pinch of salt and heat until warm. Turn the heat down to low.
- When the noodles are finished cooking, add to the pan with the vegetables and stir mixture well. Drizzle with additional olive oil and juice of half a lemon. If the pasta is sticking together, add 1-2 tablespoons of the pasta water to loosen. Throw in chopped fresh herbs, if using.
- Taste to check the flavor and add additional salt or lemon juice if needed. Serve with nutritional yeast or your favorite parmesan replacement.
And to spruce it up if you have a little extra time or energy (try any or all options below):
- Roast, braise, or grill the “toothsome” veggie before sautéing
- Throw in a handful of toasted nuts, seeds, and/or breadcrumbs
- Thin a couple tablespoons of nut butter with a drop of warm water and stir into veggies before adding noodles
- Substitute a mixture of peanut and sesame oil for the olive oil, and soy sauce for salt to give the dish an Asian vibe
- Replace noodles with pre-cooked rice, couscous, or grain of your choice