Updated: Aug 6, 2021
Growing up, chicken and noodles was one of my favorite dishes. Amish (egg) noodles with chicken simmered all day in salted water to create a creamy texture not unlike soup (just a lot less liquid) of homemade goodness. Comforting and flavorful, chicken and noodles is "home" in a bowl.
A little over a week ago, I had the stomach flu (I know...) so when I was finally ready to tackle some food again, I thought about what would taste "good" to me and ensure whatever I consumed stayed down! Chicken and noodles immediately surfaced in my brain, and rummaged through my fridge and pantry to gather supplies to make a veggie-packed vegan version.
Sustainability Spotlight: "Imperfect" or "ugly" foods are food and food supplies that cannot be sold by retailers due to imperfections or broken pre-packaged contents such as pretzels, chips, popcorn, or pasta noodles. According to Fortune.com, "in 2008, the (grocery) industry generated 43 billion pounds of wasted, unsold food." Strides are being made towards zero waste objectives among the largest grocers such as Walmart, Alberston's, and Kroger as evidenced that the industry "as of 2019, (has reduced their wasted, unsold food) to 21 billion (pounds)."
Box grocery delivery services such as Imperfect Foods and Ugly Foods have touted their ability to divert fresh supplies or other pre-packaged supplies from the grocery chains and still provide quality ingredients and goods direct to the consumer. Some of these techniques have led to less food waste in items such as chocolate covered pretzel pieces direct from the manufacturing process for broken pretzels that aren't suitable for packaging in the quality control metrics set by the producer.
I contend, however, that you don't have to do anything "special" (like subscribe to these delivery services) to take part in your own "imperfect" food diversions. As this recipe utilizes, often I find boxes of broken and fractured lasagna noodles on the shelves at the store. I snatch these up at $1 a box (usually when there is a sale) and break them fully apart for these types of recipes. They are lovely bite sized noodles, and I do my part to share in the reduction of wastes on unsold goods by taking pasta that cannot be used for a specific recipe (lasagna) and putting it in a recipe where any type of pasta would be a good choice.
1 yellow onion (diced)
1 tbsp avocado oil
3-4 garlic cloves (minced)
1 tbsp dried oregano
6 cups vegetable broth (plus 1 cup more as needed)
1 large carrot (diced - no need to peel)
3-4 stalks celery (diced)
1/2 lb pasta of your choice (I used broken lasagna noodles)
salt & pepper (to taste)
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 cup water
1 can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
1/2 cup frozen peas (optional)
Heat avocado oil in a 5-quart Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Once it shimmers, add onion and a pinch of salt. Saute for ~5 minutes until the onion starts to brown and soften.
Add garlic, carrots, and celery and saute for another 3-4 minutes to brown and soften the additional vegetables.
Add 6 cups vegetable broth and oregano; bring the mixture to a boil and add pasta. Cook till al dente (~10-15 minutes).
Meanwhile, blend cashews and water in a high-speed blender (1 minute Vitamix; ~4-5 minutes for others scraping down sides or using a tamper as needed) till a cream forms.
Once pasta is cooked, add chickpeas, peas (if using) and cashew cream. Cook for another 3-4 minutes until heated through.
Taste and adjust seasoning as needed with salt & pepper. Also, add up to 1 additional cup of vegetable broth (as desired) if the noodles have absorbed at little too much liquid.
Enjoy in big steaming bowls and feel comforted by not only the warming qualities of this veggie packed noodle bowl, but also in your contributions to sustainability.
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie