Lemony Courgette Pasta
by Iona Berry
Most of us grew up with meat as the hero of our meals and with vegetables taking up the mere corners of our plates. It can be hard to know where to start if you're trying to flip the script and cook plant based meals that don’t feel like just eating a plate full of sides. Building an exciting, yet satisfying meal around vegetables - whether that’s a bunch of carrots or a humble head of cauliflower - can sometimes feel like a little daunting and underwhelming task.
Our new series, Veg and Two Veg is here to tackle just that and to explore all of the ways in which every day vegetables can be the star of the table without sacrificing flavour or heartiness. Whether you’re cooking for one or cooking for a bunch, these recipes will fill your table with vibrant, deeply flavoured and satisfying dishes that you’ll be making on repeat.
This creamy courgette pasta is the perfect summer time pasta dish. It’s zesty from lemon juice and rich and creamy from the sauce. This sauce tastes indulgent and creamy, without actually using any cream at all, which is all down its' secret (now not so secret) cooking method.
One day when I was daydreaming about pasta dishes (not a rare activity for me) I thought and wondered if you could create a creamy sauce with an absorption method instead of using oat or soya cream. Instead of cooking the pasta and draining the water, could I use the water (and the starch which is released from the pasta) to create a sauce. This began a series of trials, some of which were better than others. I realised that using oat milk with vegetable stock created the best result and now I have this recipe to share.
The end result is a glossy and luxurious sauce that coats every strand of pasta. I love to use grated courgette in pasta dishes as the softness compliments the al dente texture of the pasta. Make sure that you are tasting the sauce at the end of the cooking time as it can really take a lot of seasoning. Get that extra lemon juice, salt and pepper in there!
3 tbsp (45ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot (90g), finely chopped
3 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
475ml vegetable stock
250ml plant based milk (I used oatly barista)
10g plant based butter
1 tsp white miso paste
½ or 1 tsp sea salt (you can always add more at the end)
½ tsp cracked black pepper
1 courgette (200g), grated
1/2 lemon, juiced and zested
½ tsp chilli flakes (optional)
15g vegan parmesan, grated
10g fresh basil or mint leaves
Start by making the sauce. Heat a large skillet or frying pan on medium heat. If possible choose a pan that is wide enough to completely fit the pasta (smaller pans will work but it will be trickier to submerge the pasta and get an even cook).
Add the olive oil to the pan. Once the oil is heated, add the finely chopped shallot to the pan and cook for 5 - 5 minutes until they begin to soften and sweeten. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes (taking care not to burn).
Add the stock and milk to the pan and heat until nearly boiling. Add the dried pasta and try to submerge it as much as you can into the liquid.
Bring it to the boil and then reduce it to a simmer. Cook it for around 20 minutes, taking care to stir occasionally and break apart any pieces of pasta that start to stick together.
Whilst the sauce is simmering, take a clean tea towel or muslin and put the grated courgette into the centre. Wrap up the edges and squeeze out the excess water from the courgette. Depending on the season this will vary but you should get at least a few tbsp of water which can be discarded.
After this time, the sauce should have reduced and turned into a creamy sauce and the pasta should be tender and cooked through. Feel free to add an extra splash of milk at this stage if you would like the sauce to be a little looser.
Take the pasta off the heat and add the grated courgette, chilli flakes (if using), plant based butter, lemon juice & zest and vegan parmesan.
Stir until everything is well combined and then taste for seasoning. Tweak the flavours and then serve with the herb of your choice and plenty of extra cheese and cracked black pepper.
By Iona Berry
Iona is our Development Chef, aka our go-to girl for developing, testing and tasting delicious dishes for you to all enjoy at home. When she’s not in the kitchen, you’ll find her either running or cycling, or trying out food markets and new restaurants around London. Continuous market research it would seem.