500g (1lb 1oz) pasta shells
400g (14oz) broccoli – just the green tops, no stalk
2 tbsp vegan spread
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
¼ cup vegan and gluten free vegetable stock
¼ tsp mustard
1/8 tsp paprika
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 cup of vegan cheese spread
Salt and pepper
- Chop the broccoli into small pieces.
- Cook the broccoli into boiling water, until tender. Drain and put to one side.
- Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking, make the cheese sauce. In a saucepan, mix together the garlic, vegetable stock, mustard, paprika, spread and cheese spread. Cook over a low heat, stirring until cheese spread has melted and is smooth.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Drain the pasta well and add it to the sauce. Add the broccoli to the sauce and mix well, heating gently until warmed through.
Recipe Variation Ideas
- Add some toasted breadcrumbs as a topping.
- Top with some sliced tomatoes and grated dairy free cheese and bake until bubbling and melted.
- Use a combination of cauliflower and broccoli.
The health benefits of broccoli
Broccoli is eaten as a vegetable and is part of the cabbage family. The large green flower heads are the most commonly eaten part although the stalk is also edible. Broccoli has many health benefits and is highly nutritious, containing dietary fiber and a wide range of vitamins and minerals. These include vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
- Broccoli contains a high level of potassium which helps to maintain a healthy nervous system and promotes muscle growth.
- The high levels of magnesium and calcium in broccoli can help to regulate blood pressure.
- Broccoli has large amounts of calcium and vitamin K, both of which are important for keeping bones healthy and strong.
- Beta-carotene, zinc and selenium help to boost the immune system and strengthen defences against illness and disease.
Broccoli contains glucoraphanin, a chemical that is processed into sulforaphane by the body. This anti-cancer compound can help to protect against the development of cancer, in particular gastric cancer. This green vegetable also contains indole -3-carbinol, a powerful antioxidant andante-carcinogen that is known to slow the growth of breast, cervical and prostate cancers.
Tips for cooking and serving broccoli
Although it is generally thought of as a cooked vegetable broccoli can also be eaten raw. The florets can be served with other vegetable such as carrot and celery with dips or the thicker stalk parts can be shredded and added to slaw recipes. If the stems seem tough they can be peeled revealing a softer inner.
Broccoli can be cooked in a variety of ways including steaming, boiling, baking and stir-frying. It pairs well with cream and cheese and can be added to casseroles, rice dishes or salads. Adding broccoli to cauliflower cheese provides extra goodness and also variety. As with cooking all vegetables, care should be taken not to lose all of the nutrients by overcooking. Steaming, microwaving, stir-frying or eating broccoli raw are the best ways to ensure that this does not happen. When cooking broccoli as part of a casserole, soup or stew it is less of a worry as the liquid is also eaten. If it is to be cooked by boiling try to use the water for other thing such as making sauces or gravy to go with the meal.