Last week you read about a tasty recipe that might not be the healthiest for you. I know, I know, the devil in you could not resist Sara Pokorny’s honey-glazed bacon and chicken bites.
But you can eat something that tastes good and is good for you. It is possible. You don’t have to live on tofu and granola or even salads alone to eat healthy food. There are many options out there for healthy eating, vegetarian, vegan or not.
That’s the virtuous part of victuals, or vittles — the pronunciations are the same — which are just fancy words for food or provisions.
And guilt-free eating is what Virtuous Victuals is all about.
Creating a tasty, healthy dish does not require an excess of imagination either.
This week, I made a pasta dish that took only about a half hour or so from cutting board to plate. It involves sautéing some vegetables and boiling pasta. I call it broccoli and asparagus linguine.
If you put a pot of water on for the pasta first, you can chop your onion, garlic, asparagus and broccoli while you’re waiting for the water to boil. When you are cutting up the asparagus, chop off the bottoms of the stems, leaving several inches of tops, which you can cut cut into pieces about 2 inches long, if you choose. Cut the broccoli into small florets and steam or microwave them until they are tender.
To saute the vegetables, first you need a good-size frying pan, something with room for stirring. Cover the bottom of the inside of the pan with olive oil and saute the garlic and onion for a few minutes over medium heat, but don’t wait for the garlic to brown before you put in the asparagus. You don’t want burned garlic. And don’t be shy about how much garlic you use. If you’re like my Sicilian mother and think garlic is its own food group, you can add even more. Let the asparagus get a little tender then add the broccoli. Season with salt and pepper as well as Italian seasoning if you like.
You can even add mushrooms, if you’re a fan of the fungus. I kind of wished I had added some baby bella or oyster mushrooms. Then stir the mixture.
Cook the linguine according to package directions. When done, scoop about a cup of the pasta water into the saute mix. Add more olive oil and seasoning to taste. Drain the pasta, then place onto plate or bowl. Top with the sauteed vegetables, some grated Parmesan and panko breadcrumbs, which are lighter and flakier than regular breadcrumbs. Or use nutritional yeast or any combination of those.
If you don’t use cheese, this is a vegan dish (no meat, dairy or eggs). Otherwise, it’s vegetarian. Either way, it’s healthy. (I switched to a vegan diet two years ago to lower my rising cholesterol, and not only did my cholesterol plummet to a safe level, I dropped about 10 pounds within a couple of months.)
But if you prefer meat and can’t understand a pasta dish without it, you don’t have to go meatless. You can add chunks of lean chicken or pieces of sausage browned ahead of time.