Is it soup? Is it pasta? Is it a vegetable bomb for dinner? Yes, to all of those things! When I crafted this dish, I was looking to do another "use it up" of my fridge post-holiday cooking. I had some herbs, some root vegetables, pantry supplemental items, and some kale. I put it all together in a pasta fagoli with a jalapeno (for a fun little twist) and then, because I absolutely need vibrant green on, in, and among my food, I spooned a gremolata on top. Beautiful, isn't it?
Use this recipe as a guide for what you have in your fridge / pantry and sub out anything you don't like - such as the black eyed peas for say, great white northern beans or even kidney beans if that's what you are into. This is a very forgiving recipe and while the gremolata is pretty and nice for a pop of herb-y flavor, it's not strictly necessary to the overall meal. And, you will have plenty of leftovers to use for the coming week.
Sustainability Spotlight: Ah, the dreaded word "leftovers." Raise your hand if you love leftovers? None of you? Yeah (me neither). I don't LOVE anything the next day more than the original day of cooking with the exception of just a handful of dishes (ramen, eggplant caponata, and...okay, not even a handful - that's really the list). But, here's the thing, leftovers aren't "bad." Meals don't have to be amazing over-the-top, drop dead gorgeous flavor bombs (though it would be awesome if they were) as leftovers. Even if they are less than perfection, they are still delicious. Leftovers are still the meal that you made just a day or two before you are reheating it - remember that when you look at your fridge and see all those saved meals; they aren't "bad," they are "good" and good for the planet.
Here's the hard truth about food in America. We waste so.much.food. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that American's waste 30-40% of the food supply each year. The food....supply. Let that really marinate in your brain for a minute. The entire supply of food that we have in a given year, 1/3 of it goes to waste. Waste from our homes, restaurants, and from our overall disregard for our bounty. We (maybe) buy it, we (maybe) cook it, and then we toss it when we don't like it, or don't eat it before it goes bad.
We can change this statistic though! Really, we can. And, quite easily. We learn to have a better relationship with food. We learn to change our mindset about food. We learn to cook at home, and we learn to limit food waste by using what we have in recipes instead of being "exact" to the ingredients. We learn to eat leftovers (and enjoy them), and we learn that we can not only survive, but we can thrive without all the excess. Make a meal plan, shop with a list, allow for multiple uses of some items that you purchase, and shop "in season" produce. Overall remember, you want to be a part of the solution so do not be afraid to push against society norms for eating and food; they aren't healthy for you or the planet so show some self-love and push against the grain to make a new path.
A pathway towards sustainability and a pathway towards a better future where we appreciate food and the bounty at our fingertips is right ahead; are you ready to step onto that pathway? Absolutely you are; so let's make this recipe the first in a year where we embark on a journey to limit food waste. Together!
2 tbsp avocado oil
1 tbsp vegan butter
1 large sweet potato (peeled and cut into 1 in. sized pieces)
1 extra large carrot (cut into 1 in. sized pieces)
1 jalapeno pepper (whole but pierced to release juices as it cooks)
1 Spanish onion (chopped); if large just use half
4 garlic cloves (diced)
3 cups vegetable stock or broth (whatever you have open)
2 cups filtered water
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes (14.5 oz size)
1 can black-eyed peas (rinsed thoroughly)
8 oz pasta of your choice (I used broken lasagna pieces)
1/2 bunch curly kale (de-ribbed and coarsely chopped)
salt & pepper (to taste)
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves (chopped)
1 small handful fresh parsley
1 small handful fresh basil
3 tbsp olive oil
Heat a 5-qt Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and add 2 tbsp avocado oil and 1 tbsp vegan butter. Once the oil shimmers, and butter bubbles, add the sweet potato, carrots and jalapeno pepper. Season with some salt and saute infrequently for ~8 minutes.
Stir in onion and garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes. Next, add the broth (or stock) and deglaze the pan. Scrape up all the little bits from the bottom of the oven; season with salt and pepper.
Now, add water, tomatoes, black-eyed peas and pasta; bring mixture to a boil. Cover the oven and simmer for ~15 minutes (or until pasta is done). Be sure to stir every 4-5 minutes so the pasta does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
Remove lid and add kale and vinegar; stir to wilt kale for ~1-2 minutes. Season one last time with salt and pepper.
Remove Dutch oven from heat; pull jalapeno (discard). Set aside soup to cool slightly before spooning into individual bowls.
Prepare the Gremolata by adding garlic and all the herb ingredients to a mini processor. Chop to incorporate all herbs.
Now, using the lid of the food processor (you will see two indentations (or at least one) on the lid with a pinprick hole. That's for drizzling olive oil into the processor bowl while you blend.) , fill the indentation 3 times (3 tbsp) while processing.
Turn off processor, and spoon gremolata on top of individual bowls of pasta. Instruct diners to stir in the herbs before digging in.
Serve in individual bowls with a large spoon and topped with big dollops of gremolata.
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie