Pasta alternatives don’t have to cost $2 per serving. I enjoy using Shirataki noodles just as much as the next paleo enthusiast or carb-conscious person, but the cost adds up. So I thought, why not utilize an ingredient that many home cooks often throw out? I always use the stalk of the broccoli, but usually just add it along with the florets in soups, stir fries, and steamed vegetable dishes. It just occurred to me today to feature broccoli stalks as the star of a dish. The result? Even better than I predicted. Broccoli stalks, when thinly sliced, make a mean fettuccine noodle. The chickpea-cashew cream sauce pairs perfectly, but my favorite element would have to be the roasted tomatoes. Overall, this dish has aesthetic appeal and a lovely flavor profile. To make it even more budget-friendly, toasted sesame seeds can be substituted for the cashews.
Broccoli Stalk Fettuccine + Roasted Tomatoes
3 roma tomatoes, halved
2 broccoli stalks
salt, for cooking
1 cup toasted cashew pieces* (see how-to in the steps below)
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
3/4 cup broccoli water
1 Tbsp garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice or more, to taste
1 clove garlic
1 tsp crushed red pepper
Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees..
Using a mandolin (who am I kidding, I don’t own a mandolin) or a knife, slice strips from the broccoli stalks as thinly as possible. Then slice each slice as thinly as possible to create “noodles” (thinner than julienne, as long as the stalk will allow you to cut all the way without inducing breakage).
In a stove pot, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add broccoli “noodles” and a pinch of salt. Cover, and reduce heat to medium-low.
*The purpose of/inspiration behind this recipe was to make use of broccoli stalks that are often discarded by home cooks and/or the general public—but if your broccoli still has florets attached, use them too.
When oven is ready, place roma tomatoes in an oven pan or on a cookie sheet. Lightly shake sea salt over tomatoes before transferring to the preheated oven.
Before you start the alfredo sauce…
When broccoli “noodles” are tender (7-10 minutes) use a strainer to extract the water/broth. Return pot of broccoli noodles to the stove, cover, and ignore while you focus on other the other elements in this dish.
for the sauce…
Blend 1 cup toasted cashews* with 3/4 cup broccoli water/broth, 1/2 cup chickpeas, 3-4 peppercorns, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 Tbsp garlic powder, and 1 Tbsp lime juice.
*to toast the cashew pieces…
you will need:
raw cashew pieces
a small cast-iron skillet or frying pan
a wooden spoon or pair of wooden chopsticks for stirring
Spread the nuts in a single layer in the skillet. Turn on heat to low (3-4). Stir regularly to ensure all sides are cooked. This takes 15 minutes, or until cashews are lightly brown. If you see traces of dark brown, don’t worry. When dry-roasted/toasted the traditional way in Guatemala, cashews develop spots that are more browned than others*.
*I found a youtube video for a how to make cashews (marañones) from start to finish (literally, the video shows the fruit picked directly from the tree). I’ve witnessed this process before but all I did was take an Instagram photo. I always wished I’d made a video. Now I found one. Shout-out to Arielhz45 for their well-made informative instructional video. The reason why most cashews you find at the grocery store in the bulk bins or pre-packaged by Planter’s or some other company = here in the grand old USA we tend to think everything tastes better with grease and salt. We roast cashew nuts in peanut oil (thanks, Planter’s) despite the fact that cashews have a high fat content already (the good, nutritious fat that comes from whole foods *note: when I write “whole foods” I don’t mean WFM. I write about WFM (Whole Foods Market) occasionally, so I can see how this might seem confusing. From now on, I will refer to Whole Foods Market as such, or I will abbreviate as WFM. When I discuss “whole foods” I mean whole foods as in unrefined, unadulterated, unprocessed foods and/or actual foods as opposed to fruit byproducts i.e. olive oil, grape seed oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, or seed byproducts e.g. sunflower, sesame, or canola. Also ingredients that aren’t used as fillers in practically every packaged food, such as the corn byproduct maltodextrin. Get it? Sorry if that sounded fragmented. If so, ask me to clarify via a comment, an email, or whatever other means of communication you choose.
Here is the aforementioned video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-TBYddQRWU
and here is an official PeaceCorps video that documents how cashews are made/processed in factories in Ghana (I’ve never been to Ghana, but I do know a lot about cashew processing and the socioeconomic chain of demand surrounding it) also I might be joining the Peace Corps so this video seems relevant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ky8omUFpxVI
the alfredo sauce:
the roasted tomatoes:
Julienne the roasted tomatoes and toss with cooked broccoli “fettuccine” and alfredo sauce: