The first Veganuary meal was a bit of a disaster. But, I bring glad tidings: I have found a quick, delicious and filling meal. And it is vegan!!! Read on to find out how to cook my new favourite meal (and it is not even January yet!): Butternut Squash & Pesto Pasta.
Success at last!
It has taken a while to get to this point, but I have finally created a vegan main course that is not only healthy and filling, it is also delicious! I am borrowing Deliciously Ella, Every Day – the second cookbook by Ella Woodward of Deliciously Ella fame – from my sister and it has been a revelation.
After trying a few recipes from the Thug Kitchen cookbook and being slightly disappointed with the results (see Veganuary – The first shop and the first meal), this book has been like a godsend.
I flicked through it, from cover to cover and felt a wave of relief wash over me. The recipes are all simple, use fairly basic ingredients and very much suit my cooking style: if something takes longer than 30 minutes to cook, I’m out. I like my food to be fresh, healthy and delicious. But, if it isn’t quick and easy to make, then I probably won’t be trying the recipe in the first place.
I was also very pleased to read this particular sentence:
“I believe that we should all try to nourish our bodies with plant-based food when we’re at home: weekday breakfasts, work lunches, Tuesday nights when you’re eating in the kitchen.. that sort of thing. These are the times it makes sense to eat the Deliciously Ella way, as you’re not having to conform to social conventions at restaurants or eat someone else’s food in their home, so you don’t have to worry about being rude or different to everybody else.
Eating my way at home means your body has a healthy foundation, so you can go for dinner with friends, order what you want and savour it: if you love pizza, order an amazing pizza; if you love cookies, get the best cookie and actually think about and appreciate each bite as you eat.
This is the balance I am talking about: healthy moderation…
… It means that trying to be super-healthy won’t take over your life and stress you out when you don’t know what to order from a not-so-healthy restaurant menu.”
In a world where there is so much pressure to eat “the right foods”, eat healthily and go on all kinds of weird and wonderful diets, it is really nice to read some common sense.
Food is one of life’s great pleasures. It should be enjoyed. And I think this is the crux of my fear concerning Veganuary.
Will I be able to eat a fully vegan diet and still enjoy my food? Is it possible?
Well, the good news is, I made an important first step forward today. Say hello to my first real success in the vegan kitchen:
Butternut Squash & Pesto Pasta
This is an original recipe but it is made using the Fresh Mint and Cashew Pesto from Ella’s book “Deliciously Ella, Every Day”.
It makes enough for 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 children.
For the pasta:
250g frozen, diced butternut squash
Salt, pepper & olive oil
For the pesto:
5g of fresh mint leaves
50ml olive oil
50g pine nuts
25g cashew nuts
1 crushed garlic clove
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1. Make the pesto by blitzing all of the pesto ingredients. It doesn’t matter if there are still some lumps, you just want to make a sort of paste.
2. Cook the pasta.
3. Microwave the butternut squash with a lid on for 4 minutes (stir halfway through).
4. Season the butternut squash with salt & pepper, sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds and pour over some olive oil. Give the bowl a shake so everything is evenly covered.
5. Drain the pasta and cover with the pesto mixture, giving it a good shake/stir.
6. Add the butternut squash mixture to the pasta, give it a good stir, serve and enjoy.