A few weeks ago my friend Sophie, of Wholehearted Eats, came down for a visit. While she was in town, we ate ice cream, walked in the park, and developed the recipe for this Broccoli Stem and Nettle Fettuccine Alfredo. The sauce for this pasta is pretty magical. Nutrient rich broccoli stems and nettles are blanched then blended with loads of lemon zest, red pepper flakes, salt and high quality, extra virgin olive oil for a smooth and creamy pasta sauce perfect for spring. Continue reading for the recipe and some tips for purchasing packaged goods with sustainability in mind…
Last week I posted about my efforts to reduce plastic waste by limiting the amount of packaged food I buy. Eating a plant based diet means that I mostly stick to the produce sections, but there are also plenty of packaged foods that I buy on a regular basis (hot sauce, salsa, mustard, ketchup, tahini, miso, curry paste, oils and vinegars, tortillas, coconut milk, honey etc.) While I’m committed to reducing the amount of packaging I bring into my home by shopping at the farmer’s market, buying in bulk, and making things from scratch, I’ve also realized that there are many things that I don’t have the time, skills, or desire to make at home and that it’s just not realistic for me to eliminate packaged foods entirely. However, I can still choose which packaged foods I buy with sustainability in mind. Here are the three rules I try to follow when choosing which packaged foods to buy:
- Materials matter. Opt for paper, glass or aluminum over plastic (which can leach toxic chemicals into your food, often doesn’t actually get recycled, and takes hundreds of years to decompose). This might seem obvious, but it’s definitely easier said that done. So many things come in plastic packaging and it can be hard to find alternatives without compromising in other areas.
- Choose organic. Over the weekend I listened to this podcast all about pesticides, GMOs and the damage they can cause to the gut microbiome leading to all sorts of diseases and decreased overall health and well-being. It’s a terrifying yet inspiring look into our broken food system and I’d highly recommend it. After listening, you’ll never want to buy/eat conventional or GMO foods again.
- Buy local. Supporting local farmers and producers is a great way to support your local economy and sustainable and ethical practices. Small, local producers are often the ones innovating and thinking outside the box. They’re the ones building businesses that support the planet while promoting equitable and just communities. In addition, the transportation of food creates massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Buying locally can make a big difference when it comes to climate change.
What do you look for when purchasing packaged foods?
*This post was sponsored by California Olive Ranch. California Olive Ranch’s olive oil is single origin, cold pressed, and sold in dark glass bottles to ensure that it stays fresh. They grow non-gmo olives on family farms in California and employ a variety of sustainability practices including drip irrigation and integrated pest management techniques. You can learn more about their sustainability practices here. Thank you for supporting my work by supporting my sponsors. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Broccoli Stem and Nettle Fettuccine Alfredo with Almond Ricotta and Toasted Breadcrumbs
Inspired by Milk Street Kitchen
FOR THE SAUCE
2 bunches broccoli
2 ½ cups fresh nettles, lightly packed (if you can’t find nettles, kale and spinach also work well)
Zest from ½ lemon
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil
FOR THE RICOTTA
1 cup blanched almonds, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
FOR THE PASTA
1 lb. pasta
Toasted breadcrumbs and minced parsley for serving
FOR THE SAUCE
Bring a pot of well salted water to a boil. Peel the broccoli stems and cut into ½ inch rounds (you should have about 2 cups). Add the stems to the boiling water. Blanch the broccoli stems for 7-10 minutes, until very tender. Add the nettles to the pot and blanch for a few more minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli stems and nettles to the container of a high speed blender. Add the lemon zest, red pepper flakes, salt and ½ cup of the cooking liquid. Blend on high until completely smooth. With the blender running at medium, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream to the sauce until emulsified and creamy.
FOR THE RICOTTA
Combine the soaked almonds and 3 cups filtered water in the container of a high speed blender and blend on high for 30-60 seconds. Strain the milk through a cheesecloth lined sieve into a bowl. Tie up the corners of the cheesecloth and squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the almond milk and save the rest for another use. Transfer the almond pulp to a medium bowl. Add the nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt and reserved almond milk and stir well to combine. Set aside.
FOR THE PASTA
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7-10 minutes. Drain the pasta before returning it to the pot. Add the sauce to the pot and stir well to evenly coat. Serve with dollops of ricotta, toasted breadcrumbs and minced parsley.
10 thoughts on “Broccoli Stem and Nettle Fettuccine Alfredo with Almond Ricotta and Toasted Breadcrumbs”
I never even thought about why TYPE of material the packaging was! That makes so much sense!!! Time to revamp my shopping habits. Thanks for helping us to help the planet 🙂
So glad you found the post helpful! Yay!
The food looks delicious!
Everyone says Buy Local but how do you do that exactly?? Theres never any links or information about it. Someone should establish a website devoted to keeping databases of local farmers and where to buy their food. The other thing is often local, organic foods are way more expensive. Im 100% for sustainable buying but what I dont like about it is its excluding low income families. 17 years ago when I started eating organic there was this promise that, although it was more expensive now, as more and more people chose organic the prices would become more affordable. However now in 2018 almost everyone is eating organic in some way but the prices have stayed the same. All its done is create this divide between the rich and poor classes for access to basic clean food. It annoys me that no one ever talks about this. As a blogger with a large audience dont you think its your responsibility to address these things when posting about sustainability?
I love your database idea! I did a quick google search and found this at the top of the list, but not sure if it would be helpful or not.
To get food from local farms personally, I just seek out all the markets/farmer’s markets near me. While not all stands are local, it’s much easier to find that local goodness in places like this. I find that the produce prices at these stands (at least in Harrisburg, PA) tend to be comparable or less than the “organic” section at the grocery store. And it tastes better!!
I live in the city(ish) and want to have a small garden eventually – if I lived in the countryside, I would rely on a bigger garden I think. That’s the most economical way to get your own seasonal organics.
Yes. There are plenty of databases out there. I usually search based on my location. For example, I know there is one for the Methow Valley (methowgrown.org) and one in Vermont (https://nofavt.org/find-organic-local-food/map-certified-organic-producers). The farmer’s market is definitely a great way to get to know the farms in your area too. Many cities also have community garden plots available to residents so they can grow their own organic produce.
Thank you so much for bringing up the issue of food insecurity and food equity. It’s definitely a serious problem and one that deserves more attention. I appreciate you reminding me to discuss the issue here. I wish there was an easy solution to the problem. Our national food policy needs to change in order for organic to compete with conventional. Until that happens, local, grass-roots efforts seem to be the best solution. I do know that there are lots of organizations out there working to make affordable, healthy food available to those who need it most on a local scale. Forterra in Seattle is helping immigrant and refugee families acquire garden plots to grow their own produce and Portland now has a mobile grocery that accepts food vouchers in exchange for local organic fruits and veggies. Fresh Bucks in Seattle also incentivizes the use of food stamps to buy fresh produce at farmer’s markets by doubling every purchase. Anyways, all this to say that there is a lot of good work happening to address the issue of food equity. Thanks again for the reminder to discuss the issue here.
Wow I’m so impressed and inspired by all this, I forgot to come back and check on this comment and I just remembered about it now when I wanted to cook this recipe (nettles are thick in the garden now!) Thanks for taking the time to respond and research this, I’m really touched. I live in Canada but I’m going to research databases here. Cheers!
I’m so glad! Let me know what you find…always curious about new resources. And hope you enjoy the recipe!
I’m so in love with these photos!! Seriously so gorgeous and elegant <3