I have very sad news to share about something I've been dealing with lately... I have had to say goodbye to a dear friend of mine. I have spent almost every day of the last three decades enjoying the company of my friend. She goes by the name of dairy. Gemma doesn't seem to be tolerating it at all, and since I'm a human milk machine these days I have to cut all dairy out of my diet. I know it's best for my baby, no question. I'm doing it. Fine. But I'm not happy about it. Not so bad, you say? Well, let me tell you I have literally had dreams about cheese and butter. Sadly, I think I could sooner give up carbs than dairy. Plus we have just entered into ICE CREAM SEASON!!!! I had grand plans of making my own ice cream this summer and doing a whole series here on the blog about it. Scrap that plan! (By the way, the use of caps and exclamation points are supposed to be showing frustration verging on anger-not excitement. Just wanted to point that out in case it's not already glaringly obvious.)
I had to resist every natural urge in my body not to douse this dish in cream and pour on the Parmesan. (Ahhh, that blessed marriage of cream and cheese! May they live in wedded bliss for ever and ever, amen.) However, this vegan primavera allows all the flavors of fresh organic vegetables to shine through with hints of lemon and basil plus a little kick from crushed red pepper. It's a really simple, stripped-down-to-the-basics kind of dish. Vegan? What?! Yes, it's vegan. If I had put that in the title, would you have continued reading? Probably not, I'm guessing.
Hear me out...If ever there was a time for a medley of fresh seasonal vegetables to anchor a meal, springtime is it. Head to the farmer's market and grab a basket full of organic produce. Your insides will thank you and so will the farmers.
-Pasta (I used spaghetti, but linguine or fettuccine would work.)
-1/2 onion, diced
-2 cloves garlic, crushed
-Small yellow squash
-Crimini mushrooms (or any mushrooms)
-1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
-1 cup fresh basil leaves
-Juice from one lemon
-1/3 cup plus three tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-Crushed red pepper
1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon of sea salt to boiling water and prep pasta as package directs.
2. While pasta water is heating, saute diced onion and crushed garlic in one tablespoon of oil over low medium heat. Cook until onions turn translucent.
3. Finley chop fresh basil and set aside. Chop vegetables and add with additional 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. Increase heat to medium. *Be sure to use a large pan so that vegetables aren't crowded and end up steaming instead of sauteing. A wok is ideal.) Add in crushed red pepper to taste. I used about a teaspoon and then added more to each plate later.
4. Once pasta has cooked, quickly drain and add 1/3 cup olive oil, lemon juice, chopped basil, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Gently toss in sauteed vegetables to the pasta. Plate with a few springs of basil on top.
*You may need to add salt and crushed pepper to taste.
This is the second week in a row that I used lemon and basil in a recipe. Can you tell how much I love them? Last week's Meyer lemon and basil mini icebox cakes were a sweet take on the combo. (I can't even look back at that post now...oh, the cream. I wish I could bathe in it. Gahhh!) This week lemon and basil go savory. I'm thinking of trying them in sun tea since I have so much around the house. I'll let you know how that goes.
With all the colors in this dish, you really get to eat with your eyes as well as your mouth. You could use any vegetable you like. Asparagus and carrots could be substituted for the squash and zucchini. If you wanted to make it a meal fit for a carnivore, add some grilled chicken. This would be a great pasta dish to enjoy outside if you're grilling out on the patio. Al fresco dining is a big perk of spring time. This year I'm planning to do a lot more of it than I did last year.
PS: Coconut milk is disgusting, and it's a sad, sad substitute for my beloved 2%.
PPS: Chocolate almond milk is just barely tasty enough to pass as a treat.
PPSS: I miss ice cream.