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Meatless Monday: Spaghetti with Walnuts, Fennel, and Peas

Posted Oct 07 2009 3:10pm

Not only is it Meatless Monday, it’s also Vegetarian Awareness Month! There are tons of great reasons to eat less meat, so here’s a recipe if you want to get to know your plant side this week. It comes from the October issue of “Shape,” which has Jennifer Love Hewitt on the cover.  It’s actually a really good issue despite, you know, having Jennifer Love Hewitt on the cover.

The recipe called for fennel, which I’ve never cooked with before. I have read a bunch of articles lately talking about how great it is recently, and I can’t resist a trend! I figured it was time to put on the big-girl pants and give it a try. I found it in the produce section with the root veggies and greens.

It sliced similarly to an onion.

As soon as I cut it, some weird part of my brain clicked on and said, “Oh, this is the vegetable that smells and tastes like licorice.” How weird. I don’t know how I knew that, and I sure as hell didn’t know I knew what licorice smelled like, but…yup!

Oh and I added mushrooms. I like a little fungus here and there.


2/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (I ran out of wallies, so I mixed in slivered almonds)

10 ounces whole-grain thin spaghetti or angel hair

1 tsp olive oil

2 bulbs fennel, fronds and ends trimmed, thinly sliced

2 cups white mushrooms, sliced

1 cup frozen petite peas, thawed

1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 tsp lemon zest (make sure to use an organic lemon and wash it very thoroughly!)

Parmesan cheese (optional)


Toast nuts in a heavy skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often.

Set aside nuts, and cook pasta according to package directions.

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and add garlic; saute for one minute.

Add fennel and stir-fry over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes; add the mushrooms and continue to cook for another 3 minutes.

Add peas, broth, and salt, and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally.

When pasta is done, drain it and add it to the fennel mixture. Add walnuts, parsley, and lemon zest.

Toss everything together and serve! (Topped with Parm if that’s your thing.)

I made the recipe for dinner on the day of a long run, so I could die in carb heaven. And die in carb heaven I did! The fennel is milder than I thought it would be when I first cut into it. The broth gives it just a little bit of flavor and makes it creamier, and the parsley and lemon zest really punch it up!

My mom seemed really skeptical when she saw it cooking (why do meat eaters do that!?), but she cleaned her plate a nd took leftovers to work the next day. And I thought that it might be good with shrimp for the non-vegetarians, but it’s so solid without it — don’t mess it up with meat!

One cup has 239 calories, 36 g carbs, 8 g protein, 8 g fiber, and 8 g fat (>1 g saturated). The recipe makes a lot, but even eating two cups is still a good dinner, and the leftovers are good — and way better than a Lean Cuisine!

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