Broccoli Pasta + Vegan Béchamel Sauce

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Learning how to make sauces was one of my favorite things about going to culinary school. It’s sort of art and science in action. You take all these ingredients, combine them in a specific and careful way and the result is something kind of incredible.

Of course, most of the sauces I learned had heavy cream, butter and/or eggs. All things that I don’t eat anymore. But now I just apply the techniques and make healthier versions of the same thing.

Béchamel is one of the five mother sauces. It’s basically a white sauce and you can flavor it anyway you like. For my version, I used Earth Balance and olive oil instead of butter; gluten-free flour in place of white flour; and almond milk for cow’s milk. Sounds like some major substitutions, I know, but it works.

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For flavoring, I added garlic, white miso paste and nutritional yeast. Those last two things might seem a little odd, but it gives the sauce some depth. And my 13 year old taste tester gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up. So I say, give it a try.

Broccoli Pasta + Vegan Béchamel Sauce

Serves 2-3

1 box quinoa pasta shells or pasta of your choice

1 head broccoli, chopped into bite size pieces

1/2 sweet onion, chopped

1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil (divided)

1 Tbsp Earth Balance

2 Tbsp gluten free all purpose flour or unbleached flour

2 tsp white miso paste

1 cup almond milk

1-2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp nutritional yeast

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Set aside about 1/2 cup pasta water before draining.

In a saute pan set over medium heat, add 1/2 Tbsp olive oil. Add broccoli florets and chopped onion. Saute until onion softens. Add sea salt and pepper to taste.

To make béchamel: Add Earth Balance and 1 Tbsp olive oil to a sauce pan set over medium heat. Whisk in flour and make a roux. Continue whisking and turn down heat if mixture begins to bubble too much. Cook about 5 minutes to lose the flour taste. Add miso paste and whisk. Add a little more olive oil if roux seems too dry.

Slowly add almond milk, about a 1/4 cup at a time. Whisk after each addition. Add garlic and nutritional yeast. Sauce should be smooth and creamy. Continue to heat sauce for a few more minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Combine pasta and broccoli mixture. Add béchamel and coat pasta. Add a little reserved pasta water if needed.

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