Updated: Mar 9, 2021
If you are busy or you work late and find yourself scrambling for something for dinner, try this as a strategy: Make a big batch of 2-3 dishes, then you have a selection from which to choose when you need to quickly heat up something on the fly. I make a huge batch of this every week and alternate it with a veggie & bean chili and a hearty winter soup. For the fusilli, I steam a healthy portion to re-heat, then add olive oil, ume (umeboshi) vinegar or fresh lemon juice and ground pepper. I use gluten-free fusilli noodles not because I am gluten-free, but I happen to like them and my daughter Marci introduced me to brown rice noodles at least 15 years ago and I am so glad that she did!! The ratio of noodles to veggies and beans is about 1:4, so it is a super healthy plant-forward dish and for those of you who work hard and don't have time to make dinner from scratch, this is a life-saver!
3 cups (or more) cut-up broccoli
3 cups cut-up zucchini
3 cups cut-up carrots
3 cups cut-up cauliflower or romanesco (looks like a green, pointy version of cauliflower)
3 cups combination of cut-up red, yellow, and orange peppers (or just red)
2 quarts filtered water brought up to a boil
Ume vinegar (umeboshi vinegar) Very salty so use sparingly!
OR: freshly squeezed lemon juice, 2 tablespoons per portion for seasoning or for reduced-sodium diets
2-3 cups garbanzo beans, drained (or protein of your choice
Your favorite olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons per portion to season
Fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
Optional: cut-up pieces of mango, seriously!
Start heating up your 2 quarts of water in a soup pot. Stainless if you've got one.
Start rinsing your cauliflower, carrots, peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli in a colander. I usually cut out the seedy, starchy part of the zucchini and yellow squash, and use mostly the outer part of the squash. Go for the color!
Cut up your veggies in the order you will be cooking them in. I had orange cauliflower on hand, plus a little white cauliflower, then cut up the carrots and the zucchini.
Next cut up your peppers and broccoli pieces. I used some leftover purple broccoli too---get as colorful as you can!!
Once your water has come to a boil, add the cauliflower and bring water back up to a boil. Boil for about 1-2 minutes, then add the carrot chunks. Bring water back up to a boil.
Next add your gluten-free fusilli noodles and give a stir. Bring water back up to a boil and stir again to prevent noodles from forming a clump. A few stirs will keep them moving although with gluten-free noodles, too much stirring can cause them to break apart, so stir only enough to prevent them from forming one mass. So now that your water is boiling again...
You are ready to add the squash pieces and the cut-up peppers. Bring water up to a boil again. The squash and peppers will be slightly underdone and that is fine. Test a noodle, and if they are done, add the broccoli immediately.
After adding the broccoli pieces, stir so that they are submerged in the water and let them cook for about a minute. They will still be bright green and al dente. That's good! Now pour everything into a colander to drain.
After the water has drained, I add about 2 cups (or more) of cooked garbanzo beans.
(I sometimes crave tuna so I will add some tuna instead of garbanzos.)
If you have time to soak your garbanzos overnight then pressure cook them, awesome! I rarely have the time so here I just used a simple canned organic garbanzo bean (also called "chick peas.")
After adding the garbanzos, I spoon the batch into three different jars, and store in the fridge until I come home from work at night, again, ridiculously hungry. I know myself and know that if I don't have something ready to heat up and eat within a couple of minutes, I will stand at my kitchen counter and shovel chips, cookies, crackers and anything I can into my mouth while I tell the dogs, "I'll be right there" as they cock their heads and watch me eat like a wild woman. That is why I have to make a few different dishes and have them ready to quickly re-heat, dishes that I seem to never grow tired of, and this is one of them. I can steam this in two minutes (I use the All-Clad steamer pan over another All-Clad saucepan with a lid) and then I turn off the flame under the heat and let them stay warm while I walk the dogs who, like me, are soon ready to turn around and eat their nice dinner!
On the plate, before adding the olive oil, ume vinegar and lemon and pepper.
It looks like a crazy amount of black pepper and you're right, it is! I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do. Another idea if you don't like garbanzo beans is to add your favorite protein on top, like tuna (did you know Skipjack tuna has the lowest mercury content?) or cut up roasted tempeh pieces, or left-over grilled salmon pieces..
When I make this dish in the summer, I add cut-up pieces of fresh mango when they are in season. Heck, yeah! Right now I am adding cut up pear or apple for a little sweet-savory action. Let us know your ideas and what you thought of the dish!