Food waste is something I’m really conscious of. I do my best to make “kitchen sink” meals towards the end of the week when I need to use up bits and pieces from my produce drawer. Tofu scrambles, stir-fries, soups, and curries are a few of my favorite ways to keep leftover veggies out of the trash. Whatever I can’t eat, I freeze to use the following week. Lately I’ve been trying to use the entire vegetable when I make a meal – root to stem cooking, as the culinary pros call it. That’s where I got the idea for Spiralized Broccoli Mac & Cheese.
Until recently, I was totally guilty of tossing out broccoli stems. What a mistake! While not as colorful or flavorful as the florets, broccoli stems are just as nutritious. They’re chock full of calcium, iron, and vitamin C. Broccoli stems also happen to be the perfect size and shape for spiralizing. Broccoli noodles? Yes, please!
For this Spiralized Broccoli Mac & Cheese recipe I used the entire plant from top to bottom. While not as tender as zucchini “noodles,” spiralized broccoli stems have a surprisingly palatable texture. To make this a heartier meal, toss your broccoli noodles and florets with cooked gluten-free or whole-wheat pasta. Smothered in vegan "cheese" sauce, this might become your favorite way to eat your greens.
When grocery shopping, go for broccoli with the thickest stems you can find. The thicker the stem, the easier it is to spiralize. Luckily, these are usually the items that other shoppers leave behind. Bonus: broccoli with the stems attached is often cheaper per pound than broccoli crowns. If you see any thick stems broken off in the bin, scoop them up for extra spiralizing action.
For this Spiralized Broccoli Mac & Cheese recipe I used the entire plant from top to bottom. Smothered in vegan "cheese" sauce, this might become your favorite way to eat your greens.
- 8 oz. whole wheat or gluten-free pasta
- 1 cup red or yellow potatoes, peeled and diced
- ½ cup carrots, peeled and diced
- ⅓ cup onion, diced
- ½ cup raw cashews
- 1 cup water
- 3 small heads of broccoli with thick stems attached
- 1 ½ tsp. salt
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- ¼ tsp. paprika
- ⅛ tsp. cayenne, optional
- ½ cup water, plus more to blend (I added another ¼ cup)
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop in the pasta. Cook according to package directions, drain, rinse, and return the pasta to the pot.
- Combine the potato, carrot, onion, cashews, and a cup of water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the vegetables are fork tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the vegetables to cool a bit.
- Meanwhile, make the spiralized broccoli noodles. Slice the broccoli crowns off the thick stems and set them aside. Level off both ends of the broccoli stems and spiralize them into noodles. Use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut any extra-long strands into bite-sized pieces. Set broccoli noodles aside. Cut the broccoli into small florets and set aside.
- Once the vegetables have cooled, pour them into the blender along with any remaining water that’s in the pan. Add the salt, garlic, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, paprika, and cayenne. Pour ½ cup of water into the blender and blend on high until completely smooth. Add more water a tablespoon at a time as needed to keep the blender moving. Adjust salt and lemon juice to taste.
- Warm a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the broccoli florets and 2 tablespoons of water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is bright green and the water has cooked off.
- Pour in half of the sauce and stir to coat the broccoli. Turn the heat to low and add the broccoli noodles. Use tongs to gently toss the broccoli noodles in the sauce. Stir in the pasta along with the rest of the sauce. Serve warm.