Vegan Black Bean Pasta Primavera

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Have you ever cooked anything because it looks good? I have succumbed to one of those times right here. Now I don't deny that it tastes awesome, but to just enjoy the sight and the smell of this dish is one surefire way of lifting me up of the doldrums.

Spring is technically here, although it still hits 5C at nights and its April, for crying out loud! So this is my way of cheating myself into believing that primavera is here ... by making pasta primavera. LOL!

While I'm a firm believer that pasta is a hearty dish that has roots dating back a few hundred years, I read somewhere that there is no such thing as a cut and dried recipe for any pasta dish. Every home, every grandmother, every uncle will have their own style of making marinara, carbonara and puttanesca. So essentially a pasta dish serves more than to satisfy your hunger, a pasta dish serves to clean your fridge, dearies. Much like a fried rice. Anything goes.

And so to echo that sentiment, I've taken a page of many celebrated chefs and put together my version of primavera. In doing so, I have maintained and highlighted vibrant colours, as suggested by spring, I've kept it sauce-less by relying on a dang good olive oil to bring the ingredients together, and I've made it a bit easier by roasting all the hardy vegetables in the oven. Not only is this hands free to some extent, the roasting coaxes the sweetness from the vegetables and make for a fabulous dish.

So what vegetables are customary for a pasta primavera? For greens, I've seen a lot of asparagus, green peas and snap peas, but guess what? I had kale in the fridge. Some primaveras are all green, but let that not stop us from eating the rainbow. For colours, you can't go wrong with carrots and peppers, they lend a sweet note to the pasta, especially when roasted.

And sure, you can make this with any pasta you please, I just had a bag of black bean rotini which I picked up from Bulk Barn. On that note, there seems to be a lot of gluten free pastas around. Just today I saw green pea rotini, so I should give it a try. Aaaaannyyyway, any pasta works.

Now get off the device, open the larder and the fridge, check what you have, and you may just yet pull a pasta primavera together. :)

1/2 large onion, sliced
3 carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper sliced
4 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Herbes de Provence* (or a pinch each of savoury, thyme, oregano, marjoram and rosemary)
3 tbsp olive oil
Kale leaves, trimmed from 8 stems
2 cloves garlic, minced
450 g (1 lb) gluten free black bean rotini
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp olive oil
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 185C or 365F.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. In a large bowl, toss the onions, carrots, bell peppers, 4 tbsp olive oil, 4 cloves of garlic, salt and herbs.
4. Place these in the prepared lined baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes

5. Halfway through the roasting of the vegetables, start the boil for the pasta. Cook as per directions indicated. Salt and oil the water before introducing the pasta.

6. While waiting for the pasta water to boil, get a fry pan and heat the 3 tbsp of olive oil, then sauté the kale leaves with the 2 cloves of garlic, just until softened, not wilted, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat when done.

7. When pasta is done, reserve up to 2 cups of the boiling water before draining.
8. Drain, then return pasta to the pan, toss with roasted vegetables (and the rest of the olive oil in the baking sheet), the kale, as much of the drained pasta water as you prefer.
9. Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper, then toss with a final dose of olive oil, this time extra virgin.
10. Plate and serve.

This makes a light and sauce-less pasta, much like an aglio e olio, but without the red pepper flakes. If you so desire, you could also finish it with parsley and vegan parmesan.

* Yes, I realize I just used a french herb blend for an Italian dish :D It was awesome ;) And in it's absence, any combination of the components will do just fine.

Oh, and in case you noticed the sesame seed looking thingies stuck to the rotini, it's the prepared minced garlic I was using because I take short cuts now and then :)

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