All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015
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A disclaimer at the top: sometimes my photographs are underwhelming – even to me. And – in this case – the photos do not do justice to the wonderful flavors of this dish. I shoot with my i-phone only & usually use only ambient or natural light. When you add the additional hurdle of a full-time job – that means I am making these pasta dishes as soon as I get up & shooting them in the morning sun – before work. In the winter, the sunlight changes pretty quickly & dramatically in the mornings & evenings. So – one day, I might shoot a dish at 9am in great light (like yesterday) but the next day I get the dish done earlier & am shooting at 8am – as was the case today. The 8am light isn’t pretty. It is blue & blue is an ugly tone to add to food – especially foods in the white/cream color zone because the blue is so much more evident. Then – trying to correct the blue – shit gets all yellow.
So – I carted this bowl of pasta all over my house trying to find nice light. I never really succeeded – but I did get a shot of the ever-optimistic Memphis – who follows me faithfully, hoping against hope that I will drop the food (which has happened) or just decide to give it to him (which has not happened). Look at him in the upper right of frame:
He is so fucking cute! And I love him too much.
Anyway – I digress. My point was, these are not my best photos but the dish is EASY & delicious & lighter than you might guess from the photos. Eh – fuck it. TRUST ME – this dish is really tasty!
On another note, I get sorta frustrated always pointing out ways in which my recipes can be tweaked to be vegan or vegetarian or meat-filled. I kinda expect a committed vegan to know how to sub out dairy & I expect meat-eaters to know they could use real meat (in my vegan meat recipes) or add it if they want it – even if I never mention it. I am never deterred by a meat item in a recipe title because I know at least half a dozen things I can replace it with (from vegan meat to chickpeas to cauliflower etc etc).
So – that in mind, cooked chicken could be added to this. Vegan alternatives exist for blue cheese as they do for milk & butter. Or use real milk & butter. But if you use real milk or butter – try to get the highest end organic stuff you can find. I used these things in this recipe (including the gourmet salts my friend Alyse brought me back from Hawaii):
But there is this vegan butter out there available at most large supermarkets.
Whatever you decide – this comes together in the time it takes to cook your pasta. You can up the dairy (or faux dairy) ingredients if you want a more Alfredo-style pasta. I don’t like heavy sauces – so I went pretty light with this one.
Orecchiette Pasta with Creamy Blue Cheese, Shaved Brussels Sprouts & Arugula (Vegan or Not)
Feeds 2 well
1/2 lb pasta of your choice
1 TBS butter (or vegan alternative)
1/2 cup milk (or vegan alternative)
1/2 cup blue cheese (or vegan alternative)
1+ cup fresh arugula (use more of the veggies to get an even lighter dish)
10-15+ small Brussels sprouts – trimmed & grated, shredded or chopped very fine (I grated mine in a food processor)
S&P to taste
Cook & drain the pasta.
Shred the Brussels sprouts
In a large saute pan, melt the butter over med-high heat & saute the Brussels sprouts for maybe a minute – longer if you cut yours into larger pieces but these guys should soften very quickly. After a minute or two, add the milk & blue cheese. Let it come to a boil & then lower to simmer & stir to melt the cheese. Season with S&P. Add the pasta & the arugula & heat through – letting the arugula wilt.
Serve that shit up & garnish liberally with freshly ground pepper.