I really think that fasting is easier when you stop trying to replace every food you have given up with a vegan substitute and instead shift your expectations. Great Lent is perfect time to practice being satisfied with simpler foods, to eat less and be grateful for more. That being said, sometimes the fresh air, sunshine, and unaccustomed exercise that come with spring’s first warm days leave me just plain hungry.
So what’s a hungry herbivore to do? How about a complete, oil-free meal all in one bowl, with lots of healthy fat and minerals from sunflower seeds and tons of beautiful green springtime veggies, including protein packed peas and green beans? If you are really hungry you could add a salad with beans and olives and avocado for even more fat and protein. Or you could just have a second helping.
Serves 3-4, depending on how hungry they are
- 1 lb pasta
- 1/2 bunch asparagus
- 1/2 lb. green beans (about 1 1/2 cups when snapped into 1 inch pieces)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 8 oz. mushrooms (white or baby portabella)
- 3-5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
- 1/3 cup sunflower butter (unsweetened, or substitute tahini or cashew butter)
- 3 TBSP nutritional yeast
- approximately 2 cups of water (reserved pasta water is fine)
1. Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and then snap or cut into bite sized pieces. Do the same for the green beans. Begin thawing the peas. Wash and slice the mushrooms and mince the garlic.
2. Fill a large pot with 1-2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. If you have a steamer or pasta strainer you can use it to steam the vegetables without having to dump out the water, but if not you can steam them directly in the pot. Put the green beans in first, cover, and steam for 2 minutes. Add the asparagus and steam for another 3-4 minutes. Add the peas and steam for 1 more minute and remove from pot (check the veggies for doneness – they will cook a little bit more once added to the sauce, so you want them a little undercooked at this point). Set the veggies aside, refill the pot, and put it on to boil for the pasta.
3. Heat a deep skillet over medium-high heat for a minute or two. Add half of the mushrooms into the dry pan (it is a little easier to brown the mushrooms and garlic with oil in the pan, but I’ll give instructions here for doing it oil free for those who don’t use any oils on strict fast days). Sprinkle the mushrooms with salt, cook until they are beginning to soften and turn brown, then flip and cook on the other side. Scoot the first batch of mushrooms towards the edge of the pan and repeat with the rest of the mushrooms. If they are sticking or threatening to burn just add a little water to the pan as needed. Have your water and sun butter on hand before proceeding to the next step.
4. When the mushrooms are soft and brown, add the garlic to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 1 minute. Add sunbutter, nutritional yeast, about 1 cup of water, and 1/2 tsp salt. Stir until thoroughly combined and creamy. The sauce thickens quickly as it cooks, so keep adding water as necessary until it is nice and creamy but not soupy. Check seasonings and add more salt as needed. Add the reserved vegetables. Cook until everything is thoroughly mixed and warm, adding more water if necessary, then ladle over freshly cooked pasta.
5. Share it with some hungry herbivores. Enjoy!
For those who need to avoid such things, this meal happens to be soy free, nut free, and gluten free if you make it with gluten free noodles.