We generally are regarded as pretty healthy as a family; a regard that I take every pride in matching - most days. Fact is, sometimes I just want something that is terribly "bad" for me. At least with a vegan meal, that usually means there are still plenty of healthy components and I know the food I'm eating isn't "bad" for the planet. My waistline...well, the secret is out - indulgent food is my vice.
Doesn't everyone have at least one vice? That thing (or things) you know aren't the best for you, but you make an active decision to indulge despite them not being in your general best interests? Sure we do! All of us; each and every one. Some vices are more harmless than others, but we all have them and (normally) the guilt that follows after indulgence can take an emotional or physical toll. Hence, our sentient being selves wrestle with the price of vices (individually).
Sustainability Spotlight: When I look around at the world, though, I see echoes of individual vices everywhere I go. Ultimately, all these individual vices are affecting me, you, us - together. Fast fashion, convenience foods, and consumer-based lifestyles indulging in the vices of "more." Each day humans individually make a million choices, and most of those choices are not in our collective best interest because they harm the planet. No really - think about it. Review the choices you made today and think about the impacts they had on the planet and how those could affect others (positively or negatively). Were any of them "good?" How many? Were there more poor choices than good? Probably , if we are all being honest.
See society has built itself around what's easiest and convenient for each of us. How did you get to where you were going today? Likely, a car because of its convenience; it leaves when you want it to and all you need are roads to arrive door to door. Oh, and because you can access gas easily...ah, now you see the issue, right? Okay, so maybe you have an electric car. How did that electricity become generated? Usually, natural gas, nuclear, or coal-fired power plants. Also, an issue for resource removal, energy generation and emissions from that energy generation process.
Vices are typically moral choices, but I look at them beyond the standards of society to really review how we interact with each other and make decisions for ourselves. Largely, we make decisions because of what is available to us - you can only have a decision where you have a choice. A choice of behavior. A choice of a pathway. We can choose to indulge or we can choose to do what we believe is contrary to that indulging behavior.
In the large scheme of things, my choices are my own and only I can "judge" this recipe as a vice. I try to limit the negative of this choice by making the recipe vegan, saving the pasta water for my indoor plants, eating on (and with) reusable tableware, and attempting to stay in (cook at home) which can contribute to offsetting the creamy, carb-centric, and highly indulgent qualities of this meal.
In other words, I'm living my truth; one (food) vice at a time and making every effort to see all sides of all layers in those decisions. If more of our population did that, we would be on a much better sustainability path. Perhaps these notes will lead you toward that better path, but because you are here for the food, I think it will - one recipe at a time.
1/2 lb whole wheat pasta (I used angel hair shape)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion (chopped)
6 garlic cloves (minced)
1 large broccoli crown cut into small florets (~3 cups)
2 plant-based sausages (cut into pieces) - I used Beyond Hot Italian
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil (chopped)
2 large handfuls fresh basil (divided & chopped)
1 cup raw cashews - soaked overnight (or at least 4 hours)
3 cups filtered water
1 tbsp white (mellow) miso
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 large handfuls fresh basil (chopped)
2 slices of bakery style whole wheat bread
2 tbsp olive oil
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water; drain and set aside.
In a large cast iron skillet set over Medium-High heat, add olive oil. Once it shimmers, add onion and saute ~5 minutes; now add garlic and saute ~2 minutes or until onion is golden brown.
Add 1/2 of the sauteed onion & garlic to a high-powered blender. Set aside.
Return pan to heat and add sausages, broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes and 1/2 basil. Saute for ~5-7 minutes or until broccoli starts to turn vibrant green.
Meanwhile, add cashews, water, miso, salt & pepper to the high powered blender to make your alfredo sauce. Blend on high till smooth (~1 minute for Vitamix or similar).
Add the alfredo to the skillet along with your cooked pasta. Stir to combine and turn off heat; spread pasta as evenly as possible to edges of skillet.
In a mini food processor, add bakery bread slices and pulse a few times. Now, add oil into the lid (there are two depressions with small holes on both sides of the lid for oil to stream while processing) and process continuously until all oil has dripped into the processor bowl. You should have evenly oiled bread crumbs.
Sprinkle crumbs across the entire top of your skillet and slide the skillet into the oven. Bake for ~20 minutes; Broil on High for the last 2 minutes to crisp and brown crumb topping.
Serve immediately alongside some fresh fruit or a simple salad to complete the meal.
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie