Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Do Over! Rigatoni with Roasted Broccoli and Chickpeas

Today I stumbled upon what sounded like the most delicious recipe: Rigatoni with Roasted Broccoli and Chickpeas. What could be healthier than whole wheat pasta tossed with a beautiful green, vitamin packed, cancer-fighting vegetable like broccoli and delightful, protein rich beans? Imagine my disappointment as I skimmed the recipe only to discover it calls for anchovies, chicken bouillon and Romano cheese. First of all, this is definitely not vegan so I won't even go there. Secondly, this dish, although it sounds very healthy, is loaded with sodium. A definite no-go as far as I am concerned.

I was still interested, however. I am always looking for alternatives to the traditional pasta with sauce I often serve. My son is a big pasta lover and he would eat it every night if he could. And thankfully, he likes broccoli, so he would be willing to try this. So what do I do?

I could just omit the bouillon, anchovies and the cheese but those particular ingredients provide most of the flavor. I can substitute vegetable bouillon for a little added flavor but I have a feeling it would still be less than spectacular. Porcini mushrooms would lend some richness but my son hates mushrooms so that's not an option. I could add tons of garlic to the dish but still, I don't think it will be memorable. So I went into the kitchen and began to experiment.

First, here's the original recipe. You can make it this way if you want and I am sure it will be delicious. Go ahead. However, if you want to cut back on fat, calories, sodium and animal products, you might want to try it my way.

Rigatoni with Roasted Broccoli and Chickpeas

Here's my variation:

I substituted the anchovies with brown miso paste. Miso paste will provide a bit of that salty richness that makes the original dish so tasty. I just don't want little fishies in my food or all that oil. You can buy miso paste in the refrigerated section of  most health food stores. If you are concerned about sodium, low-sodium varieties are available. That's what I use. I love miso paste and I always have it on hand. A little bit of miso is great for seasoning salad dressings and other dishes. I also use it to make home made miso soup.

Instead of using the chicken bouillon cubes (loaded with salt and fat), I used Vogue Cuisine Vegetarian Chicken Soup and Seasoning BaseThis product is vegan, non-GMO, low in sodium and does not contain any chicken. It's perfect for recipes that call for chicken broth or when plain vegetable broth just won't do.

Here's what I did. I sauteed the garlic in oil as the recipe dictates, but completely omitted the anchovies. I added the reserved chickpea liquid to the pan with the browned garlic and tossed in 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of the Vegetarian Chicken Soup and Seasoning Base and stirred until dissolved over the heat. I removed the pan from the stove and stirred in 1 tablespoon of the miso paste, stirring well until completely dissolved. I poured the mixture into a roasting pan, added the broccoli and the chickpeas and mixed it well to coat.

I followed the remaining directions of the original recipe. A generous sprinkling of grated vegan Parmesan cheese added the finishing touch right before serving.

This was delicious.

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